After my daughter Jeannine died at the age of 18 in March of 2003, there were signs of her everlasting presence in my life. In the beginning of my journey, though I acknowledged these signs, I didn’t develop a greater appreciation for what they communicated to me about the sacredness of the relationship that I developed with Jeannine in the ethereal plane, until much later in my journey.

Because of my ongoing relationship with Jeannine, I have determined that we can receive clarity about our life transitions from all that is part of the universe.

One More Off The Bucket List

On July 27th of this year a friend and I went to see Carlos Santana in concert. My friend told me that seeing Santana perform live was one of the items on his bucket list. Though I knew that Carlos Santana is renowned as the greatest guitarist of our generation, I never listened that closely to his music. Needless to say, he gave a mesmerizing performance, and motivated me to explore his music more closely.

Dreams of a Shape-Shifting Wolf


The following evening, I had a dream that I was standing outside of a chain-link fence that had a very narrow opening. On the other side was a wolf that appeared to be slightly wider than the opening in the fence. Suddenly, he elongated his shape to fit through the opening and reach me on the other side. As he approached, I felt apprehensive, but that fear soon dissipated. He ambled over to me and stood to my left. He let me pet him; he appeared to be smiling. The first words that came to me as I awoke were: “shape-shifting.”

Interestingly, Carlos Santana’s latest cd was titled “Shape Shifter.” I knew then that I had to buy this cd to discover the teachings that awaited me. The one thing that I knew prior to this dream was that I had to “shape-shift” in order to embrace a new set of rules that has allowed me to develop greater clarity in my journey… thus far.

The Great Spirit Prayer


“Shape Shifter” arrived in the mail about a week after I ordered it. I opened up the cd and almost immediately discovered on the back of the cd liner notes, The Great Spirit Prayer, which was translated in 1887 by Sioux Chief Yellow Lark. The entire prayer may be found at the following link:

When I showed this prayer to a shamanistic practitioner who is a part of my support network, she immediately suggested that I research a Cherokee story titled “The Wolf I Feed.”  There are several versions of this story; here is the one I found:

The Wolf You Feed 


An elder Native American was teaching his grandchildren about life. He said to them, “A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. 

The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith.”

”This same fight is going on inside you, and inside every other person, too”, he added. 

The Grandchildren thought about it for a minute and then one child asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied… “The one you feed.”

Retrieved from: 

After I found this story, I re-read The Great Spirit Prayer and found a passage that helped me further understand the connection:

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother, but to fight my greatest enemy -myself.”

Grief: The Civil War Within

I have embraced Native American teachings during my journey following Jeannine’s death and they have been a key component of my ongoing spiritual development. On the surface, my dream, and its connections to Carlos Santana, reinforce the path that I have chosen to undertake. However, upon further review, I believe there is more to learn from this experience.

In the early phase of my journey, I experienced a variety of emotions such as: anger, fear, regret, self-pity. I also experienced some contradictory emotions such as joy and displayed kindness and love towards others, even though there were times that I felt totally untethered from others and myself.

Eventually, I had to decide which set of emotions I had to feed. I could have decided to live my life in total pain and sadness or embrace emotions that would allow me to find peace and allow me to honor Jeannine. Eventually, with the love and support of others, I decided to feed those emotions that would allow me to experience peace and help others, in a world that was forever changed after Jeannine’s death.

The Wolf, Our Teacher

In Native American culture, the wolf is “the pathfinder, the forerunner of new ideas who returns to the clan to teach and share medicine.” (From Jamie Sams and David Carson,Medicine Cards, p.97). Sams and Carson also go on to say: “It is in the sharing of great truths that the consciousness of humanity will attain new heights.”

I believe that each one of us has a story to share, and in those stories are insights and truths that will help others who are going through transitions of any kind. Through our stories, we teach others, and in the process raise their level of awareness about connections and truths that will assist them in their journeys. We do not have to be great philosophers or teachers to contribute to the collective good; we just need to be willing to share ourselves with others who are traveling the same road.

God created a circle of light and love so vast, no one can stand outside of it.

– Carlos Santana

This article was originally published by The Grief Toolbox ( on August 26,2012

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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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