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

  • We Don’t Have a First Day of School Picture to Show You

    August 25, 2019 by

    The start of the school year finds this fairly recent tradition of sharing pictures of children on their first day of school. I love seeing the happy faces as they head off to what they hope will be a year of excitement, learning, and growing. Those really organized parents who remember to do this every… Read more

  • Different Grief

    August 18, 2019 by

    for John Permesang Grief is a broad term we use when describing the impact of losing someone. But it is such a broad term that it really does little to help us understand one another in grief. There are books on stages of grief and ways to overcome grief, but such attempts obviously cannot  address… Read more

  • The Bond of Children Left Behind

    August 4, 2019 by

    Yesterday, my wife and I dropped Dov off at the Special Days Camp near Muskegon, MI. Dov has been at the camp several times, but this time he is volunteering as a camp counselor for a week. Special Days does great work in just two weeks: one week is for children who had cancer and… Read more

  • “Tears are No Measure of Grief”

    July 27, 2019 by

    I like to gather wisdom from many places — novels, poems, Scripture, prayers, and, of course, Gunsmoke. Or more specifically, Miss Kitty on Gunsmoke [for the uninitiated, Gunsmoke is a “Western” and the longest running prime time television show of all time — 20 years from 1955-75). I was watching an episode with my Western-loving… Read more

  • The Rippling Effect of Grief

    July 21, 2019 by

    Grief has a rippling effect. Throw a stone in the pond and you can see the impact of that stone ripple out in an ever-widening circle. When we lost Oliver at the age of six, the stone was thrown hard and the ripples went out a long way. Clearly, as his parents, we did not… Read more

  • The “Experienced Griever”

    July 14, 2019 by

    I was reading an excellent blog on grief called Dealing with My Grief where the writer described herself as an “experienced griever.”┬áIt is a phrase that resonates with me. It’s been six years since we lost Oliver, so I guess both Mary Ann and I can wear the “experienced griever” label. But it is not… Read more

  • Let the Christians Grieve

    July 7, 2019 by

    As Christians, we are not always comfortable with grief. If we truly believe in eternal life, should we not celebrate when someone dies and goes to heaven? After Oliver died, countless people told us “he was in a better place,” which may be true, but I can assure you it is no comfort to the… Read more

  • About this blog

    June 25, 2019 by

    My name is Derek Emerson and I’m the father of four children and have been married to my wife for over 30 years. In 2006 we received our youngest child, Oliver, into the family. In 2010, at the age of four, he was diagnosed with stage 4 Neuroblastoma cancer. In 2013, after nearly three years… Read more

  • The Guilt of Happiness

    June 25, 2019 by

    One of the challenging aspects of grief I struggle with is that of guilt. In today’s world of mass shootings, we hear more and more about survivor’s guilt and it is good that we recognize that surviving such an event does not leave you unchanged. But our guilt is not of that kind. Of course,… Read more

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