Oliver Zane Emerson


Your absence has gone through me
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.

— W. S. Merwin

  • Men and Grief

    January 26, 2020 by

    Men and grief. Well, this could be a short post! I’ve written before about how rare it is to hear men talk about grief. This blog is, in part, a chance for a least one man (and dad) explore the idea of grief now that it is no longer an idea, but a reality. “Male… Read more

  • I Dreamt About My Son

    January 19, 2020 by

    My son died over six years ago and one thing my wife and I have in common with our grief is that Oliver never appears in our dreams. I would love to see Oliver in a dream, getting a ride from brother Dov in the little Jeep, doing his happy dance, flapping his hands with… Read more

  • What Killed My Son — As Visual Art

    January 12, 2020 by

    My wife recently sent me an article about an advancement in neuroblastoma research that included a photo of a neuroblastoma cell. I’ve seen neuroblastoma pictures before, but I was struck by the beauty of the disease that killed my son. The pictures of the cells are often different as the scientists are highlighting different parts… Read more

  • The Holiday Ills

    January 5, 2020 by

    Another holiday season has come and gone, which means my wife is now on the mend. Holidays have a way of bringing out illness in her. Just over a year ago her plans for a Thanksgiving feast were waylaid by illness. This year Thanksgiving went well, but we entered into the Christmas season with a… Read more

  • The Holy Innocents

    December 29, 2019 by

    Dec. 28 is the Feast for the Holy Innocents, also called Childermas, in which we honor the first martyrs of the church. And who are these first martyrs? The boys under two slaughtered by King Herod the Great in his desire to eliminate the Messiah who came as a baby. Of course, Joseph had been… Read more

  • Grateful at Christmas

    December 23, 2019 by

    A few weeks ago I wrote about gratefulness and happiness. Being grateful in the midst of grief is not an easy task but one that we are reminded of in this Christmas season. The secret, according to St. Therese of Lisieux, is found in her “Little Way.” She learned to find reasons to thank God… Read more

  • "How are you?"

    December 15, 2019 by

    As we near Christmas and are in the midst of the Advent season, I feel like I should get all scriptural here. Well, not today. Instead, I focus on thoughts about grief as shared by Elizabeth Gilbert (yes, of Eat, Pray, Love fame and a few critically acclaimed novels). Since Gilbert grew up on a… Read more

  • Longest Night Service

    December 8, 2019 by

    In recent years many Christian churches have been hosting “Longest Night” services. They are sometimes called “Blue Christmas” or “Empty Manger” services, but I’ll go high church enough to prefer the sound of “The Longest Night” service. Literally, the longest night is also, go figure, the shortest day of the year and usually falls around… Read more

  • Caring for the Grieving

    December 1, 2019 by

    Before my little boy, Oliver, passed away I was one of THOSE people. I avoided people in grief because I didn’t know what to say and was sure I would say the wrong thing. Because of what I went through with Oliver, I now throw myself into the world of other people’s grief (well, respectfully,… Read more

  • Happy Holidays?

    November 25, 2019 by

    Well, it is that time of the year. The smell of Thanksgiving is already in the air and Christmas decorations and music are in every store. It is no secret that holidays are tough for people missing someone they love. For us with Oliver, we of course wonder what our 13-year-old boy would want under… Read more

  • “Grateful” to “Happy”

    November 17, 2019 by

    This past week I came across the teachings of David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk. The talk below reminded me of Oliver who focused so much on being “happy.” I’ve written about Oliver’s attitude a great deal, but it is worth hearing in this context. When Oliver was little he would stop what he was doing… Read more

  • Let us love him in spiritual dryness

    November 10, 2019 by

    “Yesterday we loved God in light and in joy; today let us love him in darkness and spiritual dryness. If we had the surety of his love yesterday, we ought also to have it today. His love does not depend on the changes of our heart…His love is everlastingly the same.” This simple and compelling… Read more

  • “Grief doesn’t have a clock.”

    October 27, 2019 by

    Mary Ann (my lovely wife) recently shared an article with me from The Irish Times. Tony and Mary Heffernan lost both of their children to a rare genetic disorder called Batten Disease. Both children died just short of their sixth birthdays leaving the couple bereft. Their second child was diagnosed with the disease while the… Read more

  • Your Brain on Grief

    October 20, 2019 by

    I recently saw this 3-minute animated video of what it is like for your brain when you are in grief. As the video says in the opening, we often say people are heartbroken when it may be better to say brain-broken. A person’s response to grief actually does affect your brain and how you deal… Read more

  • Can we love “better”?

    September 29, 2019 by

    My love of poetry is hardly a secret. Poetry has a way of filling the gaps in life where the normal way of looking and talking about something fails. Recently, I reread some poems by the 19th-century poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning. She is half of one of the great literary love stories as her poetry… Read more

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