The following article was originally published by The Grief Toolbox ( on November 21,2012. I received a strong nudge to repost this article about my father on this site on Father’s Day weekend. My dad was only a part of my life for five years, but  he has taught me more in death than he ever did in life. His gift to me  to me and my mother was letting go, so that we could live a fulfilled life without him. I believe that my father was aware of his limitations, and that  his decision to leave was  the ultimate act of love. He has also taught  me about the importance of  acceptance and forgiveness.

Today, I honor my father not for what he taught me by his presence, but more by what he taught me through his absence. So dad, this is for you, from your son,with love. May our relationship continue to grow. 

The passage of time between events is irrelevant once you begin to become aware of the connections between them. I have discovered this truth during the last two plus years of my life.   This discovery started with  simple  intent; I simply stated to God my need to develop greater spiritual awareness. I did begin to gain greater appreciation for the spiritual world after my 18 –year-old daughter Jeannine died in 2003. She regularly communicated signs of her everlasting presence to me and those whom she loved in a variety of ways.  I learned that love prevails even in death. I knew however, that there was more to learn, so I expressed my readiness for further learning.  Needless to say, the universe  more than granted my request.

When you want something,

all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.

-The Alchemist

The depth of my understanding of the wondrous spiritual relationship that I had with Jeannine grew in leaps and bounds. That understanding not only helped me view her death from a different perspective, but helped me discover other connections in my life. Those discoveries not only empowered me, but helped me view previously tumultuous relationships that I had with my deceased ancestors in a different light.  The person who most comes to mind is my father.

My Father’s Pain

My father was named Austin Roberts; he left my mother Sadie and me when I was only five years old. I never saw him again. I struggled for many years with his decision to leave, angry and hurt that I was deprived of my biological father during my formative years. It was only recently that I was able to acknowledge the gifts that he gave me in the short time that he was part of my life.

I previously wrote about my father and his background  in an article that was published in July of 2012  which can be found via this link:

I  did wonder if my father regretted the decision that he made or if it even pained him to leave my mother and me. Without any further contact with him, I couldn’t know for sure. The only thing that I knew for certain is that he eventually remarried before he died.

About a month ago, I was checking in by phone with my dear friend Patty Furino and one of my most influential spiritual teachers. During the course of our conversation she felt moved to encourage me to pray out loud and give thanks to those spirit guides who have been instrumental in my own spiritual development during the last two years of my life.  Shortly after my praying was complete, she communicated that she clearly felt the anguished spirit of my father. She told me that he had regrets that he left and never got the chance to see me grow up. I immediately told my father that he had no reason to have regrets and reiterated that I was at peace with his leaving. My friend told me  that “ he ( my father)still has his own process” to go through to come to terms with the decision that he made to  leave my mother and me.

Forgiving him never entered my mind, until that moment.   However,I could no longer  hold him accountable for his inability  to thrive in a traditional marriage, when that was never modeled for him in his childhood. My father, I concluded, did the best that he could do given his upbringing.

From what I have read about the afterlife, I have discovered that it is possible to take unhappiness that is experienced in the physical world, to the spiritual world.   I can only pray that my father ,in time, utilizes the resources and teachers  available to him on the other side to  come to peace with the decisions that he made, and in the process ascend to a higher level of consciousness.


Time Stand Still

Time stand still

I’m not looking back

But I want to look around me now

Time stand still

From the song “Time Stand Still” by Rush

Lyrics by Neil Peart


As I progress on my journey, I have begun to pay more attention to everything that I experience. I look at events not only for their present teachings but when indicated, for their connection to the past.  The past as I have discovered is the teacher and architect for my ever-evolving present reality.

In approximately 1994, I was working with a chemically dependent male patient who bore an uncanny physical resemblance to my father. He also had a history of tumultuous relationships with females. Of course, my own father’s relationship with my mother ended after a few years of marriage. There was one counseling session with this patient that I remember vividly. He was angry and in tears because his current significant other wanted to break off the relationship. I remember during the course of the session cupping his face in my hands and trying to comfort him. This was not something that I planned, it just happened.  During that moment, I saw in his face, the shadow of my father.

At the time, I believed that what I saw was based on the fact that this patient bore such a strong physical resemblance to my father. Given what I know at this moment, I believe that my father’s spirit was working through this young man to communicate his anguish over leaving me and my mother. Without realizing it, I connected on a soul level with him.

I didn’t see any spiritual significance in the interaction at that time, because the ethereal world was not a part of my reality. It took me over 18 years to make this connection between past and present, but once I did, time didn’t matter……. Time Stood Still. 


Express your lives as a demonstration of your highest beliefs, rather than a denial of them.
Neale Donald Walsch


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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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