The Tigger In All Of Us

A good friend of mine, who has also experienced the death of a child, sent me a clip of the song “The Wonderful Thing About Tiggers” on April 27th of this year, which would have been my daughter Jeannine’s 28th birthday. Jeannine became forever 18 on 3/1/03 as a result of a rare and aggressive form of sarcoma.

Jeannine’s favorite Disney character was Tigger. Jeannine loved Tigger because he bounced and was the only one. Jeannine certainly bounced with what seemed to be an endless supply of energy during this lifetime. There were days that I got tired just trying to keep up with her.

As an aside, the fatigue that I experienced in my early grief following Jeannine’s death did not compare with the fatigue that I experienced trying to keep up with her when she was alive. The fatigue that I had when Jeannine was alive was always temporary because of the joy I experienced from her constant physical presence in my life. In early grief, I was never sure that I would recover from the fatigue of dealing with the profound pain and sadness associated with her permanent physical absence.

Jeannine was truly in my eyes the only one of her kind, a passionate, heartfelt soul who defied conventional wisdom. I am convinced today that Tigger is as much a part of her spiritual identity on the other side. I believe that her Tigger energy is touching all whom she has met . I know that the Tigger in her continues to redefine me, teach me, and shape the path that I am on. Jeannine’s earthly life and eternal life continue to teach me that there is no such thing as conventional wisdom and that there are several ways to go down the path of enlightenment.

We may all bounce on that path differently, but our destination remains the same.

Grief- An Uncomfortable Fit?

Tigger also boasted of having a “rubber top”(in the video clip, he is stretching his ears). Rubber reminds me of the need for all parents to reshape their worlds following the death of a child.  Our life long journeys become more meaningful when we reshape and stretch the boundaries of our thinking about life and death, which in turn forces us to challenge beliefs that no longer suit us . It is at times an uncomfortable fit, but a necessary one if we are ever going to learn to live again, while celebrating the lives of our children.

Cuddle Your Grief: It is OK

In the song, Tigger boasts that “Tiggers are cuddly fellows.” Throughout our journeys, sometimes we just need a hug or a reassuring touch or nod to let us know that there is hope and that we can transcend the most painful of tragedies. Sometimes others need the same from us. Actions of love many times speak louder than words. Hugs, reassuring touches or nods are powerful forms of cuddling. These gestures represent powerful forms of presence in our time of need and expressions of unconditional love. Whether you are the recipient or the giver, embrace  and celebrate that cuddling part of Tigger in your journey.

Tigger’s Gifts

I like to think that our children were and are all Tiggers in their own way. Each of our children have unique gifts and an energy that positively and permanently affected anyone who had the privilege to bear witness to it. It is that energy that drives us as parents to make sure that they are always remembered and that their legacy lives on long after we cross over.   Celebrate the Tigger in your children and let their unique gifts, energy and talents continue to guide you on your journey. Maybe in the process, you will become a Tigger too.

Final Thoughts

I have two stuffed Tiggers that belong to Jeannine, prominently displayed on the shelf overlooking my desk. Their presence not only facilitates an ongoing connection with my Jeannine, but triggered this additional thought:

“It is not about the destination, but the journey.”

David J. Roberts became a bereaved parent after his daughter Jeannine died of cancer at the age of 18.  You can read more of his work here. This article was originally published by The Grief Toolbox.

Photo credit.


  1. Kelli Sue Pelzel said on September 27, 2012 at 4:52 pm ... #

    Mr. Roberts…
    Thank you for sharing. Your words hold so much meaning and radiate such strength. We lost our son to suicide May 5, 2010. He was 15.
    Grace & Peace to you.

  2. Dave Roberts said on September 27, 2012 at 6:15 pm ... #

    Hi Kelli Sue:
    Thank you for your kind words about my article. Please accept my condolences for the death of your son. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayers.

    Wishing you peace

  3. marsha rickles said on September 28, 2012 at 1:36 pm ... #

    I lost my seven year old son Jonathon 24 years ago when he was struck down by a drive while bike riding. The grief over the years has diminished in that the elephant on my chest is no longer there, but the ache in my heart will always be a part of me.
    After he died,I had to focus on my older son, who had just lost his best friend. I could not just crawl under the covers, although I wanted to many a day. I started a campaign to educate on the need for bicycle helmets and bike safety. I traveled throughout the state delivering my message to schools and health workers, and did PAs on tv. When a law was finally put into place requiring helmets for children 16 and under, I knew Jonathon would have been happy. He was social, kind, and always trying to help friends.
    Jonathon had a pet alligator named Choppers. He loved that stuffed animal. Choppers was one of the few things that I kept when I finally cleaned out Jonathon’s room. I still think about designing a helmet with an alligator on it in his memory.
    I was blessed to have twins the year after he died. They could never replace him, but they have brought me so much joy that I could never think about not having them here. My older son is now married with two little boys. I wonder how he will be when his children reach seven.
    I have had much pain but thank God for the gifts that I do have. I think for parents who do not have or cannot have other children, the journey to recovery is much harder. I pray for all those who have suffered losses and hope they find peace and can again be happy.

  4. Dave Roberts said on September 28, 2012 at 11:20 pm ... #

    Marsha . Please accept my condolences for the death of your son Jonathon. As time has gone on for me the raw pain of my early grief has become softer and more manageable . being able to do service work has given my life new meaning. I am glad that you were able to transform your grief into efforts to create awareness of the need for bicycle helmet laws for children 16 and under in your state, and eventual legislation to address it.

    I do hope that you are able to make a helmet with a crocodile on it, to further honor Jonathon.

    Wishing you peace

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