Eulogy for Oren Miller: A Blogger, A Father, A Friend

March 2, 2015 | By Brent Almond | DAD STUFF, MAKING MEMORIES

Since my friend Oren Miller was diagnosed with cancer in May of 2014, I’ve written about him only once. Between Oren’s own devastating and inspiring words and those voiced by so many others, I’ve not felt the need to share my own. Perhaps because I was too close, too involved, or because I had the privilege of offering my support and friendship in person — my words have not found their way onto this page.

Last Wednesday I was able to share what were to be my final words and moments with my friend. Three days later, Oren passed away.

One of Oren’s greatest passions was for the words of modern fathers — regardless of the size of their audience or the strength of their voice — to be heard. His wife Beth asked me to speak at Oren’s funeral, and the flood of words finally came…

oren miller, blogger father and friend

Oren Miller at my wedding, April 26, 2014. Photo by Soo Park.

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I have the unimaginable honor today to speak about my friend Oren. And though you can’t see them, I’m standing here with more than 1,000 other men, who, like Oren and his online handle, are bloggers and fathers. We’re fathers from all across the country and around the world. We’re young and old, new and experienced fathers (and grandfathers). Fathers who work outside the home, and those that work at home, raising their children. Fathers of every ethnicity, religion and economic level. Straight, gay, bisexual, and transgendered fathers; biological, adoptive, divorced, single, step, estranged, and reunited fathers.

You all know that a couple of years ago, Oren started a group on Facebook for dad bloggers. You’ve likely read that it started as a small group (I was the sixth to join) and is now at 1,051 members. You probably know that the vast majority of us write about being a father — sharing our stories through sentiment or humor, as advice or entertainment; as a way to share ourselves with our children, our peers, with strangers, and with ourselves. You may also know that when Oren was diagnosed with cancer, this group he started rallied around him and his family, helping to raise more than $35,000 towards his medical costs. And you may have heard that just a mere 9 days ago, a scholarship was named in his honor, helping men attend a conference that’s all about being a better, more engaged, more visible father.

But what’s so wonderful about this group? Why would it inspire such high praise, and such an outpouring of love, prayers and support from a group of men that for the most part have never met each other in person?

We joke that the first rule of the Dad Bloggers Facebook page is to not talk about the Dad Bloggers Facebook page. Sorry guys, I’m breaking the rule today.

Oren started the Dad Bloggers Facebook group late in 2013, out of a desire to connect so many of the other dads he’d met online. To connect them to each other, so that they could be better writers, better fathers, gain more opportunities, and to further the message that dads could and should be involved in not only supporting, but also nurturing and raising their children. An avowed introvert, Oren also started it out of a desire to connect himself.

The group serves many practical purposes. It allows newer writers and bloggers to learn from the more experienced. It enables dads to join forces to bring about change in the way fathers are portrayed in the media and advertising, and to affect policy in the way they are treated by their employers.

Beyond the “practical” blogging-related benefits, the group has come to function on many different levels. It’s become a place to share our most personal stories and our most inappropriate jokes, a place to vent and to boast, to swap war stories, to butt heads, to make peace. Advice on nearly any subject is frequently asked and freely given. We’ve surrounded and supported those dealing with depression, anger, addiction, divorce, custody battles, estrangement, sickness, and now, death.

The last time I saw Oren was on Wednesday. Beth told me Oren had some things to discuss with me, and that I should come as soon as I could. As I drove the 40 minutes from home, I tried to prepare myself for anything. Perhaps Oren wanted to give me a final message for the group. Maybe he’d ask me to speak at his funeral. I even imagined him requesting that I take Liam to see the new Star Wars movie when it came out.

I arrived, gave hugs to the family, and was ushered to his bedside. After a bit of catching up, Oren started giving me instructions on his processes for running the Facebook group. How to reply to new requests, how to screen them, who to ignore, who to accept. He told me how he likes to do this at least once a week, suggesting a program to help remind me — in order to keep the backlog of requests from getting too long. Beth came in a few times to let Oren know he had other people wanting to see him, and that I didn’t come there to be put to work. He assured her we’d be finished soon.

After nearly an hour, Oren (and me, too) started to grow weary. We put our laptops away, Beth helped Oren downstairs, and we ate dinner together, making conversation with the family and friends gathered at their home. Before long Oren began to drift off, the pain medication taking its toll on his weakened state, and Beth helped him back up to bed.

Granny Frannie, in her unending exuberance, declared that this had been “a good day.” I was curious as to what constituted a good day at this point. She explained that she hadn’t seen Oren that engaged or focused in the last few days as when he and I were working on the dad bloggers page. And he hadn’t been down for a meal in those same few days. He was enjoying what would be one of his last moments of normalcy.

And while it wasn’t what I was expecting, it was a sight to behold. This man, full of so much love and compassion, passion and opinion, with a sense of community and striving for all to be included, was tending to his legacy. He was ensuring it was in good hands and would continue to do all the good it had done in what shouldn’t have been — but were — his final years.

Last night as I finished writing this, I skimmed through the Dad Bloggers group before heading to bed. The vast majority of the 1,051 members have not met Oren in person. Yet as I scrolled through, I saw all the numerous and creative and heartfelt ways these fathers were choosing to honor our Founding Father. Some performed songs; some shared photos of themselves with their families; some are even planning on getting tattoos; and of course they honor him through their writing.

Oren, please know that your legacy, your group, your fathers — are in good hands. In the hands of those that have shared and supported your vision. We’re in the hands of each other, continuing to laugh and argue, comfort and counsel, inspire and challenge. And even more importantly, our families are in good hands. Hands that come together to learn, to hold firm to one another for support, to learn wisdom and patience and compassion, hands that allow us to be better spouses, partners, sons, and fathers.

When we search our souls and pour them onto the page, we will carry on your legacy. When we hug our children just a little bit tighter, we will carry on your legacy. And we will always hold you — and your family — close in our thoughts and in our hearts.

On a personal note, I want to say — as I’ve said all along — what an honor it’s been to be a stand-in for the group. I already counted Oren a friend before he became ill, yet through this experience I came to count him as a dearly loved friend. And through this experience I’ve come to know and love his family — and they never hesitate to show their love and appreciation to me, Nick and Jon. Oren truly was surrounded by love as he left this world, and he left the world a much lovelier place.

Thank you Beth, Liam and Madeline — for allowing me to be a part of this very difficult journey. And thank you Oren, for being a part of my journey, and the journey of over a thousand other bloggers, fathers and friends.

Rest in peace, my friend.

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You can make a contribution to the Oren Miller Dad 2.0 Summit Scholarship Fund, which the family asked funeral attendees to do in lieu of flowers.

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47 responses to “Eulogy for Oren Miller: A Blogger, A Father, A Friend”

  1. Perfect, Brent. Absolutely perfect. Thank you for this, all of it.

  2. Adam Hall says:

    Hear hear, well said, thanks for this, and a lot of tearful expletives that I will not type at this time.

  3. You knocked this one right out of the park. If I had been able to come up with the words to express my feelings, I still don’t think I could have done so well. Thank you, Brent.

  4. Pierre says:

    Thanks for representing the crew Brent. Well said man.

  5. Jackie says:

    Lovely and heartfelt. My condolences on the loss of your friend. It is obvious through your words that he left his handprint on the hearts of many.

  6. daniel says:

    Yes, you did stand up there with over 1000 of us. There were so many of us that wished we could have been there. Thank you for being there, not just at the funeral, but also by Oren and Beth’s side. The group will be in good hands.

  7. Thanks for representing us so well.

  8. neal says:

    Brent, you did good here. In the eulogy, and definitely in the past couple years. You were the right guy, in the right place, at the right time. Tough stuff here. But meaningful. Thanks.

  9. Chris Routly says:

    Perfect, Brent. Thank you.

  10. Carl Wilke says:

    Brent, that was so very well done. Thank you for representing all of us Dad Bloggers so eloquently. I’m one of the multitude of DB’s who never met Oren in person but still considers him a friend and his death a loss. Yet, because of the vision he had that you described so well he will indeed live on through each of us. I’m so thankful for knowing Oren and the other 1000+ guys in the group. I’m a better husband, father and man for it. And maybe even a better writer.

  11. Oren made many good choices. Leaving the group in your hands among them. You’re a good friend and a better man. Cheers … K

  12. Phil says:

    Thank you, Brent, for speaking for all in such an eloquent way.

  13. Transcendence is not something many people achieve. I cant help but think of Larry’s Aunt L and the idea that love is like using a candle to light other candles. Oren’s flame has definitely carried him past death and kept a lot of candles going.

  14. This is great Brent. I am sure that there wasn’t a dry eye in the house after this if tears hadn’t already began to fall earlier.

    I do have two questions though;

    1. Isn’t the first rule of Dad Bloggers “don’t be a dick?”

    2. When you read this part “I even imagined him requesting that I take Liam to see the new Star Wars movie when it came out.” was it greeted with laughter? I have to admit it made me chuckle reading that line and thinking how you thought that Oren would make you drive for 40 minutes just to say “take my kid to see Star Wars.”

    Well done mate. And I am so happy that Oren got to deputise you before he left town…

    • Brent Almond says:

      Darrell:

      1. Yes, that’s the over-reaching “official” rule of the group. But I didn’t want to drop the d-word at Oren’s funeral. Though I’m sure he wouldn’t have minded.

      2. I think it got a small laugh — I was kind of oblivious. I would still totally do it, especially if his uncles aren’t into Star Wars. I’d gladly drive across state to help educate my late friend’s son in the ways of The Force. 🙂

      And thank you. I like your analogy of being deputized. 🙂

  15. Drew says:

    Thank you for this, Brent. I’m glad you were there for us, and I hope you are all okay.

  16. Seamus says:

    Wonderfully put Brent. The group is in good hands, as Oren knew it would be.

  17. Thank you Brent for being our voice. You expanded our heart out to all at his memorial service, letting them know a side of Oren that was most likely hidden from them. We were all very lucky to have him.

  18. Unsurprisingly beautiful and well said. Thanks for being our voice at the funeral, and for taking over the group.

  19. Great job, Brent. You’ve been a great friend to Oren, I admire that beyond words. Let loose the weight now, rest, grieve, love, hope. Peace to you.

  20. Gary Mathews says:

    Very well put Brent, I’m am sorry for your loss. This is an amazing tribute to Oren.

  21. Thanks, Brent, for being there on our behalf, for sharing with us, and for taking on the task of the Dad Bloggers Group.

  22. Lance says:

    Beautiful. Brent, this was lovely in so many ways. thank you.

  23. […] on the other side of the country from where I sat at my desk in my office, Oren was laid to rest. A few of our community were able to be there for the funeral, while most of us felt guilty for not being able to. The logistics of 1,051 of us piling into the […]

  24. […] close friend Brent Almond, who blogs at Designer Daddy, delivered a eulogy at the funeral touching on Miller’s passion for uniting dads. Almond told HuffPost Parents that Miller was […]

  25. […] close friend Brent Almond, who blogs at Designer Daddy, delivered a eulogy at the funeral touching on Miller’s passion for uniting dads. Almond told HuffPost Parents that Miller was […]

  26. […] close friend Brent Almond, who blogs at Designer Daddy, delivered a eulogy at the funeral touching on Miller’s passion for uniting dads. Almond told HuffPost Parents that Miller was […]

  27. […] close friend Brent Almond, who blogs at Designer Daddy, delivered a eulogy at the funeral touching on Miller's passion for uniting dads. Almond told HuffPost Parents that Miller was truly […]

  28. Ted Rubin says:

    Thanks for sharing Brent. Memories keep the ones you loved close to your heart, today and forever. May love become our shelter and the beauty of precious moments our comfort. I think about my Dad almost very day, some more than others… and although I miss him terribly, I smile every time he comes to mind. Hope many of you do the same for your Dads, and for Oren.

  29. Ron Farrell says:

    Brent,
    This is the single, best thing I’ve read in forever. Simply stunning. You’re right, too…even though we can’t all be at his funeral…EVERY SINGLE one of us are there in heart and spirit.
    Ron Farrell

  30. […] close friend Brent Almond, who blogs at Designer Daddy, delivered a eulogy at the funeral touching on Miller’s passion for uniting dads. Almond told HuffPost Parents that Miller was […]

  31. Chris McKee says:

    This was so beautiful and touching. Such a great tribute. Well done, and I’m so, so sorry for your loss.

  32. Lindsay says:

    Brent, What a gorgeous job you did for an amazing man. Oren’s legacy lives on in so many ways.

  33. Jack says:

    Very well done. You did good with this.

  34. Alex says:

    Well said man. I can’t imagine how hard that must have been for you. You’re all in my thoughts.

    Much love from Australia x

  35. […] “Beth told me … I should come as soon as I could … Oren started giving me instructions on his processes for running the Facebook group… Before long Oren began to drift off, the pain medication taking its toll on his weakened state, and Beth helped him back up to bed. Granny Frannie, in her unending exuberance, declared that this had been “a good day.” I was curious as to what constituted a good day at this point. She explained that she hadn’t seen Oren that engaged or focused in the last few days as when he and I were working on the dad bloggers page. And he hadn’t been down for a meal in those same few days. He was enjoying what would be one of his last moments of normalcy… it was a sight to behold. This man, full of so much love and compassion, passion and opinion, with a sense of community and striving for all to be included, was tending to his legacy. He was ensuring it was in good hands and would continue to do all the good it had done in what shouldn’t have been — but were — his final years. Oren, please know that your legacy, your group, your fathers — are in good hands. In the hands of those that have shared and supported your vision. We’re in the hands of each other, continuing to laugh and argue, comfort and counsel, inspire and challenge. And even more importantly, our families are in good hands. Hands that come together to learn, to hold firm to one another for support, to learn wisdom and patience and compassion, hands that allow us to be better spouses, partners, sons, and fathers. When we search our souls and pour them onto the page, we will carry on your legacy. When we hug our children just a little bit tighter, we will carry on your legacy. And we will always hold you — and your family — close in our thoughts and in our hearts.” Brent Almond, (Designer Daddy)   The Eulogy […]

  36. Don Brackett says:

    Thank you so much Brent, for representing us perfectly. Although I wish whoever was chopping all these darn onions would just quit it already. Much love, amigo.

  37. Matt N says:

    Brent, I’ve only just now had the opportunity to read this. Lovely words. Perfectly written. Thank you for representing our group, and thank you for being there for Oren.

  38. […] So the first post today (and ever) is a post by Brent Almond, a close friend of Oren’s, who spoke at his funeral. I think of all the wonderful tributes to the man I have read this was one of the most illuminating because it showed just how passionate Oren was about father’s sharing their stories and communicating with one another. Go read it, and bring some tissues. […]

  39. Leigh Ann says:

    This is so beautiful. What a testament to your friend and the community he helped foster.

  40. […] the passing of one of our own, (Oren Miller – you will be missed.)  A group of us Dad Bloggers have joined together and created a petition, which as of the time I […]

  41. Caleb says:

    This is absolutely great. I just recently joined the dad bloggers page and stumbled across this post. What an excellent way to honor your friend. I wish I could’ve known him.

  42. […] I’d like to introduce you to Brent.  He blogs from Maryland, and in this eloquent post on Designer Daddy, he pays tribute to his friend, a fellow dad-blogger named Oren Miller, who died of cancer a year […]

  43. Craig says:

    Brent, beautifully written piece. I have a much deeper appreciation for the dad blogger group and for its founder. I’m sure Oren knows the group is in very good hands with you at the helm, though he may question your decision to let me join 🙂

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