The Number 8

In Ted Andrews book, Animal Speak, there is a page devoted specifically to the meanings of numbers as they relate to our understanding of nature. The number 8 signifies, among other things, the symbol for infinity or eternal life. It is ironic that eternal life arises from death, an event so emotionally painful to those who bear witness to it. Death is an event that all of us would wish to avoid or talk about. However, death is woven into the fabric of our very existence and can be one of life’s greatest teachers and can help us achieve a greater purpose in life.

My Hometown

I live in a rural area, only minutes from Utica, New York. I reside in a three-bedroom ranch house nestled off of a road labeled Oneida County Route 26(the sum of the individual numbers is 8). After over a year of looking at houses of all shapes and sizes, my wife Cheri and I fell in love immediately with this one. I think it was the beautiful backyard and in-ground swimming pool that sealed the deal for us. The road is surrounded by landscaping reminiscent of something that one would envision if they believed in an after-life. I have lived in this area for close to 28 years and with my wife Cheri, raised three children. One of my children, Jeannine, entered eternal life at the age of 18, on March 1, 2003. She had a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

The “Why” Questions

Parents whom I have talked with have asked the “why” questions after experiencing the death of their children. I had plenty of “why” questions myself. Though the “why “questions never resulted in answers that would satisfy me, they did help me eventually help me make sense of a world, where the rules changed due to Jeannine’s death.

Different Kinds of Questions

I have learned that there are messages inherent to all that is part of the world around us. Being aware that insight can come from anywhere and being open to it, can provide us with moments of clarity that can help us on this sometimes uncertain road of grief upon which we travel. I would like to share with you some recent observations and questions that have arisen from living in the proximity of Oneida County Route 26:

The main road leading to our house was only recently designated as Oneida County Route 26. Given the fact that I am a parent who has experienced the death of a child, did this area pick my family and me over 28 years ago? Was this the area chosen for me as the setting where the redefinition of myself would evolve?

I have to consider the possibility that the decision that we made to buy our house 28 years ago, is intimately connected to what is transpiring on my journey in this present moment.

Is the passage of time viewed differently when we experience the death of a child? The time-space continuum became different for me after Jeannine’s death. Depending on what was happening with me, five years could seem like five minutes, and vice versa. What I am further proposing is that the passage of time may also be viewed through synchronicity of events regardless of the number of years that have elapsed. If we believe this to be true for our own journeys, then time is truly relative.

Another event that occurred within the past year was the appearance of a perfectly formed number 8 on the inside of our garage window. I recently photographed this in April of this year. I interpreted the appearance of the number 8 as a message from Jeannine that her death and entrance into eternal life was destined from her birth. I have discussed in previous articles my guilt over not doing enough to prevent my daughter’s death. Guilt over Jeannine’s death has not been a part of my journey for many years. Jeannine’s message reinforces to me that guilt should no longer be a part of my journey honoring our relationship, nor should ever get in the way of our relationship. Only love should rule.

Today I consider myself to be a permanent resident of Infinity Boulevard. It is a road that I believe all of us travel when we experience the death of a child, or other catastrophic loss. It is a road where lessons about life and death are revealed regardless of time passed. It is also a road where insight and knowledge developed is not, nor never should be, attached to conventional wisdom…… and therefore knows no limits.

You are a soul

You have a body


This article was originally published by The Grief Toolbox( July 16,2012.

Dave Roberts 2012

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David Roberts

David J. Roberts, LMSW, became a parent who experienced the death of a child, when his daughter Jeannine died of cancer on 3/1/03 at the age of 18. He is a retired addiction professional and an adjunct professor in the psychology and psychology child-life departments at Utica University in Utica, New York. Dave is a featured speaker, workshop facilitator and coach for Aspire Place, LLC. Dave has also been a past national workshop facilitator for The Compassionate Friends and a past national workshop facilitator and keynote speaker for The Bereaved Parents of the USA. Dave also co-presented a workshop titled “Helping Faculty After Traumatic Loss” for the Parkland, Florida community in May of 2018,in the aftermath of the mass shootings at Stoneman Douglas High School. Dave was also a keynote speaker at The Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Remembrance Weekend during in June of 2019 in Ponte Vedra, Florida .Dave has also done numerous workshops at the local and regional levels related to transformation from grief and loss. He is the co-author with Reverend Patty Furino of the recently published book "When The Psychology Professor Met The Minister" which is available for purchase on Amazon. For more information about their book,please go to: Dave has been a past HuffPost contributor and has also published articles with the Open to Hope Foundation, The Grief Toolbox, Recovering the Self Journal, Mindfulness and Grief, and Thrive Global. He is currently a regular contributor to Medium. 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 Paraclete Press DVD video, Grieving the Sudden Death of a Loved One. He has appeared on numerous radio and internet broadcasts and Open to Hope Television. Dave was also part of a panel in 2016 for the BBC Podcast, World Have Your Say, with other grief experts, discussing the death of Carrie Fisher. Dave’s website: is devoted to providing support and resources for individuals experiencing loss.

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