My Grief Journey: The Truth and Nothing But The Truth

It Is What It Is
I am a man who has been redefined by circumstances beyond my control.  My process of redefinition started when my 18 -year- old daughter Jeannine died on 3/1/03 of a rare and aggressive form of cancer. If Jeannine were here now, she would tell me to not make her death a focal point of my change in perspective. However, it is what it is, and I can’t deny that my transformation as a human being began with her entry into eternal life. I am secure knowing that she continues to teach me in spirit, and that our relationship has allowed me to be open to further lessons from other spiritual teachers and the universe around me. I do still miss her physical presence, but I have learned that I can’t want for what I don’t have, or believe I am entitled to have. I had Jeannine in my life for 18 years and in the eyes of sacred law 18 years was sufficient time for her to learn the lessons that she needed to learn in this life, and teach others, including me. For years after her death, I punished myself for not being able to protect her from cancer.  I let my preoccupation with my failure to protect her,overshadow any other positive aspects that I brought to the father-daughter relationship. From my perspective, early grief and continuous rumination about the what ifs and should haves and could haves is one of the challenges we must address if we are to evolve on our journey. After two and one half years of beating myself up for not being able to protect Jeannine from a type of cancer that I had no control over, I decided that I needed to change my perspective. It didn’t happen overnight; it has been a seven and a half year journey to get to where I am now. The lessons will continue until I die, and then there will be more to learn when I get to the other side.

 

We Have Done This All Before

I do believe that we have lived other lives.I first began to entertain this notion when I read Brian Weiss’s book “Many Lives, Many Masters.” It has been reinforced by the instantaneous soul connections that I have made with other individuals in my life. I have a good friend who I have spent a total of ten minutes with in person and I feel like I have known him for lifetimes. This becomes reinforced every time we talk with each other. I have had that same feeling with many who I consider to be my spiritual teachers. From what I have read and from what I have experienced, I believe that we were meant to cross paths at the precise moments in time when we did. We were meant to witness each others journeys and learn from each other. We have learned ,in the process, to inspire ourselves and as a result  inspire others. Our self-absorption in early grief has now been replaced by an overwhelming desire to share our transformation and contribute to the common good.

Discovering My Purpose As A Father

I stopped obsessing about my failure to protect Jeannine when I began to realize through discussion with my spiritual teachers , dreams and other moments of synchronicity, that protecting her was not my primary responsibility. I discovered that my primary responsibility to her in this lifetime, was to let her make adult decisions. I also believe that in previous reincarnations of myself that I was a protector, even if it meant sacrificing my own life in the process. I know to some that this may sound far -fetched, but this is how my journey has evolved. Everyone’s journey evolves differently, the truth manifests itself in a variety of forms. One of the lessons that I have learned is not to judge another person’s account of their truth . I can’t because I am not living it.

 

Enlightenment vs.Transformation


I also do not see our process of transformation  as about enlightenment. I can be enlightened about a certain path in my life to take and do nothing. Enlightenment ,to me, doesn’t cover the deep spiritual transformation that we undergo in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. Transformation comes through overt action and an ability to view life from both a physical and ethereal perspective. Embracing a different perspective goes beyond enlightenment; it is about willingness, hard work and faith even when we ourselves question its power. I do not want to be perceived as enlightened, I want  to be perceived as transformed.

My wish for everyone is that they find a path to knowing that will help them address the challenges that life regularly throws our way. There will be emotional and maybe even physical pain in the process. Sit with your pain, embrace it, learn from it, and release it. The empowerment that you discover will allow you to start the process of transformation; sharing your transformation will result in blessings that you never imagined.

 

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David Roberts

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David J. Roberts, LMSW, CASAC, 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. He is a volunteer for Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc, in New Hartford, New York . Dave has presented workshops at national conferences of The Compassionate Friends and Bereaved Parents of The USA beginning in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Dave was also the opening keynote speaker at the 2011 national gathering of the Bereaved Parents of the USA. He is also a featured speaker,workshop presenter and coach for Aspire Place(www.aspireplace.com) Dave 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 show. Dave’s website: www.bootsyandangel.com is devoted to providing support and resources for individuals experiencing loss.

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