I still have a powerful relationship with my daughter Jeannine six-and-one-half years after her death. I believe that my relationship with her extends to other people in my life.

I have been an adjunct professor at Utica College since January of 2003. I love my students deeply. They gave me energy when I had none, and purpose in a world that became foreign to me after Jeannine died.

During the fall 2008 semester, I taught a Death, Dying and Bereavement class, and one of my students, “Jody,” shared an experience that she had during the semester. This is her story:

On October 24th, I was attending the funeral of a man named John. He was my mother’s best friend’s husband. I had known him for about ten years. He and his wife also lost their son to a drunk driving accident when he was 18 years old. John died after battling emphysema for many years and of complications from MRSA. This funeral was especially hard to attend because my father is also infected with MRSA and is constantly in and out of the hospital.

So the thought that his life could be cut short like John’s was weighing heavily on my mind. Also the fact that John was being buried next to his son was heart wrenching. I remember crying my way through the funeral and all the way to the cemetery. The hardest part was watching John’s wife, as her husband was buried next to their son.

After the services were done, I was feeling pretty run down and very upset. My mother and I attended the services with her boss Joan and her husband. I can honestly remember telling my mother that I would like to find out where Jeannine was buried because after everything you had ever told us about her I felt a connection to her.

After the services, Joan wanted to go pray by her mother’s grave. When we were walking towards the grave, I was immediately pulled to one stone. When I got up to the stone I realized that the last name on it was Roberts and I was looking at your daughter. A calm and peaceful feeling suddenly came over me and for those few minutes that I stood there I no longer felt upset or alone.

I feel as though through my connection with you, your daughter knew I was hurting and she was there with me comforting me. Prior to finding her grave, I had no idea what cemetery she was buried in, nor did I know where in the cemetery she was. All I know is she guided me to her, and comforted me more that day than anyone will ever know.

Jody’s story is a testament to the everlasting love that our deceased children have for us and those whom we love. My hope is that her story will provide you with hope and comfort during the upcoming holiday season.

“As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. Death ends a life, not a relationship.”– Morrie Schwartz

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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 College in Utica, New York. Dave is a featured speaker, workshop facilitator and coach for Aspire Place, LLC. He is also the chapter leader for The Compassionate Friends of the Mohawk Valley, whose mission is to support families who have experienced the death of a child. 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. 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: www.bootsyandangel.com is devoted to providing support and resources for individuals experiencing loss.

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