Mother Taught Son How to Grieve With Dignity

My mother, Sadie B. Roberts, died on March 11, 1994 at the age of 77, due to complications arising from a massive bacterial infection. She died less than 24 hours after being admitted to the hospital. Her death left a tremendous void in my life.

My mother raised me as a single parent, since I was five years old. My father left us and was never heard from again. I am also an only child, so my mother was all that I had growing up. When she died, I found myself at 38 years of age, an orphan, even though I was married to a great woman and had three beautiful children.

My mother was a warm, intelligent and passionate woman who had unconditional faith in God and the universe. My mother had her share of heartache in her life, but she didn’t let it prevent her from enjoying life and helping the people that she loved the most.  She always saw the good in people, no matter who they were or what they did to her.

Even though my father left us and by all accounts treated her miserably, she only told me about his positive qualities. She also told me that despite his faults, he loved me with all of his heart.  My mother had every right to be bitter and angry at my father, but instead she strove to emphasize his good qualities and nurture those in me.  She was also a devoted grandmother, and my wife Cheri viewed her as a second mother.

My mother also gave me my first introduction to the world of non-ordinary phenomena.  Cheri and I were cleaning out her apartment about a month after she died.  I felt incredibly sad, empty and lonely. When we got home, I went into our bedroom and in the corner, I saw my mother as a young woman sitting in a chair, smiling at me. As I have since discovered, that was her way of telling me that she was happy in her new life and that we would someday meet again.

My mother’s influence on my life has become more apparent during my grief journey following the death of my daughter Jeannine on March 1, 2003. My mother’s emphasis on service, helping others in need and turning negatives into positives has helped me find meaning as a bereaved parent. My mother has also taught me to let the universe be my guiding light. As a result, I have met some wonderful people from whom I have drawn inspiration and have had many opportunities to be of service to other bereaved individuals.  Most of the time, these people and opportunities found me.

I still miss my mother’s physical presence, but the lessons that she has taught me have stayed with me and have helped me navigate my grief as a bereaved parent. My mother along with Jeannine remain partners in my grief journey and continue to help me grow spiritually and find significance.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom, and give Jeannine a big hug for me.

David Roberts

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David J. Roberts, LMSW ,became a parent who experienced the death of a child, after his daughter Jeannine died of cancer on 3/1/03 at the age of 18. He is a retired addiction professional and is also an adjunct professor in the psychology department at Utica College, Utica, New York. Dave has presented workshops at national conferences of The Compassionate Friends and Bereaved Parents ,as well as local and regional venues. Dave was also the keynote speaker at both the 2011 and 2015 national gatherings of the Bereaved Parents of the USA. He is also a featured speaker,workshop presenter and coach for Aspire Place( Dave is a HuffPost contributor and has also written articles for several other grief and self-improvement publications. He has co-authored two books with Linda Findlay of Mourning Discoveries. One is on navigating grief during the holidays and the other is on pet loss. One of Dave's articles” My Daughter is Never Far Away" can also be found in Open to Hope: Inspirational Stories of Healing and Loss. Excerpts from Dave's article for The Open to Hope Foundation, called The Broken Places, were featured in the 2012 Paraclete Press DVD video, Grieving the Sudden Death of a Loved One. Dave has also appeared on Healing the Grieving Heart and the Advocacy Heals U radio shows , and the Open to Hope television show . Dave’s website: is devoted to providing support and resources for individuals experiencing loss.

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