The Search For Spirit During Our Grief Journeys


A Brand New World

I don’t operate under the same rules or beliefs that I did over ten years ago. I don’t think I would have thrived today if I did not make a conscious effort to look at the world differently . It took a catastrophic event to challenge my perspective on life and to eventually transform my perspective. It would be desirable for transformation to occur during times when life was treating us well. However, when things are going smoothly, there is no motivation to change our perspective.   It is usually a severe shock to our system that promotes transformation of our worldview.

The road to transformation began for me on March 1,2003. My only daughter Jeannine died at the age of 18 of a rare form of cancer. After wallowing in the muck of  the raw pain of grief for two and-one half years, I made a conscious decision to wallow through the muck to find renewed purpose and meaning in my life.  During my ongoing journey ,I have come to believe that we survive death ; that our souls continue to evolve and reserve the option to reincarnate to discover additional teachings in the physical world. I have also been blessed with many supportive individuals, including other parents who have experienced the death of a child and wise spiritual teachers who have witnessed  my spiritual transformation. Their presence has brought me peace and clarity in the aftermath of my daughter’s death; a reality that was different from the one I envisioned, but one  which I was now destined to live.


Pure Spirit

“Reaching for the you that exists beyond all the drama is what the spiritual search is all about.” 

The Afterlife of Billy Fingers by Annie Kagan 

  The search for my new spiritual identity after catastrophic loss developed not only because of my willingness to walk in awareness of the resources and supports that the universe provided, but also because of my willingness to look within and discover my redefined self .  Looking within can be a challenging process because of our tendency to reflect on past mistakes and regrets over paths not taken or choices not made. The search within after the death of our children requires that we discover our true gifts and assets apart from the drama and chaos created by others and ourselves because of the choices we made in the past . What I have discovered so far in this process is that I am a good teacher, father, friend and witness to others who have experienced loss and/or who desire spiritual transformation. Jeannine’s death has taught me more about patience, forgiveness of my self and others, and an appreciation of the past influences of my ancestors before me.

We also need to insulate ourselves from the drama created by the expectations that others have about how we should grieve after the death of our children. Their projected reality does not have to be our actual experience.  When the drama and expectations of others are not part of the equation of spiritual growth, all that remains is our true selves, pure and unadulterated spirit.   

In Your Eyes

All my instincts, they return

And the grand facade, so soon will burn

Without a noise, without my pride

I reach out from the inside

From the song “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel 

When our redefined , authentic selves emerge after loss some individuals may see us as driven by ego. Authenticity and genuineness are not about ego, they are about honesty and empowerment. There are no facades, no destructive pride that are clouding your perceptions of self or the world. We can now look at the world through our own lens, through our own eyes. We trust our intuition and we now operate from a position of love and beneficent  service to others.  These are the cornerstones of self-transformation and the search for spirit during our journeys after the death of our loved ones.


David Roberts

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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 department 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. Mr. Roberts has been a presenter at the Southern Humanities Council Conference in both 2017 and 2018. Dave has been a past workshop facilitator for The Compassionate Friends. He has also been a past workshop facilitator and keynote speaker for The Bereaved Parents of the USA. Mr. Roberts has contributed articles to the Huffington Post blog, The Grief Toolbox, Recovering the Self Journal and 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 2012 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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