A Father's Grief Journey
Embracing Love & Loss, Shadow & Light
With Dave Roberts
In the twelfth episode of the Mindfulness & Grief Podcast, I interview Dave Roberts, LMSW, author, and founder of Bootsy & Angel Books, LLC, and most importantly, the father of Jeannine, who died of a rare form of cancer when she was 18. Dave supports other grieving parents through his work with The Compassionate Friends, in his private practice, and through writing, speaking, and teaching in the psychology department at Utica College. Learn more about Dave at Bootsy & Angel Books, LLC., where you can also purchase his book on pet loss and holiday grief.
So often we refer to grief as a journey. It is a path none of us choose, but many people learn a lot about themselves along the way. Dave Roberts is a bereaved father, and someone I consider to be a Grief Sherpa. From the early childhood loss of his father abandoning him and his mother, through his daughter Jeannine's death decades later, Dave has walked his own path of loss with his mind, heart, and spirit wide open.
One of the things I've attempted to do is really embrace a variety of different perspectives to begin to look at what happened to me differently, to look at Jeannine 's life differently, to look at her death differently, and to look at the aftermath differently....I had to embrace a very eclectic perspective of spirituality. I've embraced much of native American teachings of nature and animals. I probably embraced a little bit of Buddhism unconsciously.
I won't put any spoilers in here, but if you listen to this podcast, Dave will share with you the various things he has incorporated into his life that help him integrate his loss and stay connected to his daughter. From Native American teachings to after-death communication to meditation and shadow work, Dave has many tools in his toolkit. But as most of us in this profession, everything he does is in honor of Jeanine.
It's just doing those little things that honor the memory of your child, that honor what your child represented in any ways that are comfortable, whether it was volunteer work, whether it's doing acts of kindness, whether it's companioning bereaved parents, anything. And one of the things that you will find is that when you sit with another parent and share your story. That's one of the most intimate moments that you will share with anybody is a story of life and loss. If they have shared your story with you, consider that to be the ultimate gift...
In addition to doing his own grief work, Dave supports other parents who are grieving through his books, volunteering with Compassionate Friends, and in his private practice. His daughter, Jeannine, is with him always.
When we talk, whenever I do a workshop, whenever I do an interview, I tell people we're a package deal. You're getting the best of me and the best of my daughter and that's allowed me to keep the bond alive and it's also allowed me to find some peace knowing that I carry her with me. As I carry my grief now in a softer and more integrated way, I carry her as well.
Compassion is a curious thing - a paradox of emotions including sadness and gratitude, fear and joy. But true compassion is also energizing. And while no one would ever choose to be a bereaved father or anything for that matter, parents helping other parents - as they do in Compassionate Friends - creates precious human connections that are vital to helping us assimilate our story of loss back into our life.
Stories inspire me and they continue to inspire me to continue to do the work on the path that I do and it's just I never, never thought my life would take the turn that it has taken 16 years ago, but at this point I can't see myself doing anything else and I do it with my daughter firmly at my side and all of her ancestors and my ancestors.
In addition to this podcast, read the fascinating article by Dave Roberts on The Healing Power of Karma After Loss on the Mindfulness & Grief Help Blog.