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 of treatment, Oliver passed away just six weeks shy of his seventh birthday.
While Oliver was in treatment I wrote updates on his health on a site called CarePages, which is no longer in existence. Along with updates on Oliver, the site became a place for me to work through the range of emotions I was feeling as a parent, a father, a spouse, a caregiver, and a Christian. I often called these written thoughts my “ramblings” since they were raw, unedited, and often without any clear direction.
Since Oliver died I have written less even though the pain of losing him is ever present. This blog is about my living with the grief of losing a child. There are many excellent blogs and books about grief in existence and I’m not expecting to add anything original to the discussion. Still, I do better expressing my feelings and thinking through writing rather than talking so this is a chance for me to explore my experiences and share it with anyone who may be interested. I’ll also branch off of some thoughts from my CarePages, but now in the context of having lost Oliver.
My Christian faith will certainly appear in this blog since it is central to who I am as a person. I don’t believe my faith offers an answer to the why bad things happen in the world so you won’t get any “It was God’s will” or “Oliver’s in a better place” lines in the blog. In fact, being a Christian and wrestling with my son’s death only convince me that being an atheist would be a lot easier — as a believer, that is not an option for me.
So, faithful reader who is still reading this, thank you for taking the time to hear what I hope to explore. If it is of interest, feel free to comment or just lurk in the background.
The Players (names that will show up often)
Oliver’s mom, my wife
Gray and Kim
Gray is the oldest brother (20 years older than Oliver) and Kim is his incredible wife.
Maria and Lee
Maria is Oliver’s sister (18 years older than Oliver) and Lee is her always supportive husband.
Oliver’s other big brother (6 years older than Oliver); he is currently in college.
Scout is the daughter of Maria and Lee, the granddaughter of me and Mary Ann, and Oliver’s niece. She never had the chance to meet Oliver, but she hears a lot of stories.