The Transformative Power of Grief

Embracing a Different Perspective

Since my daughter Jeannine’s death at the age of 18 in March of 2003, I have undergone a radical spiritual transformation. I have learned to embrace all that is part of the universe, to help me gain a different perspective on Jeannine’s entry into eternal life.  In the process I have learned that my relationship with Jeannine is ongoing. Who she is, is now a permanent part of who I am and who I want to be.  I still have much to learn on my journey and am poised for that to happen from anyone who crosses my path. We are all one in the quest for spiritual enlightenment regardless of who we are and from where we came.

An Empowering Experience

Being able to transform my grief into meaningful work with others who have experienced death and other transitions and to simultaneously walk in awareness of what the world has to offer, has been an empowering experience. There are days where I still feel the pain of Jeannine’s physical absence ; though I immerse myself in those moments I detach from them when I begin to feel that I am spending too long in a place that I have no desire to revisit for any prolonged period of time. In early grief my pain defined me and engulfed me; it was me. Today it is merely a part of my total life experience, and another source of learning for me. Recently,  I was feeling the pain of Jeannine’s physical absence ,with an intensity similar to my early grief phase.  In an attempt to change my perspective, rather than focus my energy on her physical absence, I gave Jeannine thanks for being a strong spiritual presence in my life who has continued to inspire me to reinvent myself in the aftermath of the seemingly insurmountable challenges her death created for me.  There was a time in my life where I would have been content to let pain have its way with me and let it transform me. Today, I strive to transform it, and to learn from it. There is no one technique or strategy that I am aware of that can promote transformation of our selves after the death of a child. For me, it was simple intent, a desire to see Jeannine’s death differently. From there the universe provided me with the resources to embrace the process of transformation.

No End in Sight

I am 57 and proud of the person I am becoming. There is no endpoint to becoming, as there is no endpoint to the journey we take as parents who have experienced the death of a child. Every epiphany that we have along the way lead to paths yet to be explored or traveled. The new knowledge that we gain will continue to redefine us and empower us to lead a life of significance rather than a life of regret and pain.

There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”- Ernest Hemingway



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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