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

  • 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

  • The Month of the Dead

    November 3, 2019 by

    I’m not sure November would have selected this theme for itself, but in the Christian tradition November is often noted as the month of the dead. While not dominated by death, it begins with All Saints’ Day on Nov. 1 and All Souls’ Day on Nov. 2. Think of it as setting the stage for… Read more

  • Slot-machine Jesus

    October 13, 2019 by

    “We don’t believe in a slot-machine Jesus,” she says. “We believe in a Jesus that understands suffering and is with us in suffering, and is not judging or pushing or saying hurry up and make this redeemable.” These words come from  Nelba Márquez-Greene, whose youngest daughter, Ana Grace, was killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook… Read more

  • “It’s all nonsense”

    October 6, 2019 by

    “This talk of making peace with it. Of feeling it and then finding a way through. Of closure. It’s all nonsense. ‘ Here is what no one told me about grief: you inhabit it like a skin. Everywhere you go, you wear grief under your clothes. Everything you see, you see through it, like a… Read more

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