On Saturday the blogging world lost one of its most popular exponents. At the young age of 41, Oren Miller lost his nine month battle with stage 4 lung cancer. He was “surrounded by love” as his wife Beth Blauer wrote on Facebook informing his friends and family of his passing.
Oren was the founder of the now 1,000 plus strong Facebook group Dad Bloggers which features independent bloggers, freelance writers and journalists, comedians and cartoonists, book writers, publishers and artists; all who are fathers and active parenting bloggers from 15 countries around the world.
While you might not be familiar with many of the names of these writers, you would more than likely have read a post or two from many of these writers on publications such as The Huffington Post, The Good Men Project, Babble, Scary Mommy, Mamamia and iVillage Australia to mention a few. You may even have shared a meme, cartoon or viral video on social media that was created by one of these men.
In addition to setting up this Facebook group, Oren wrote for many of these publications while writing and managing his own blog called A Blogger and a Father which chronicled his life as a stay-at-home-dad after the birth of his children. After his diagnoses he continued writing about his experiences and thoughts about being diagnosed with terminal cancer.
One of his most popular posts which has been shared tens of thousands of times and republished on many online publications is one that he simply titled “Cancer.” In that story he wrote;
“I believe in Heaven on Earth, and I believe it’s found anywhere you seek it. Here’s where I found it: I found Heaven on long car rides with the kids. I could have felt bad about having to drive my kids back and forth to school for hours every day, but instead, I used those car trips to chat with my kids about their worlds and about mine, to introduce them to music, and to make up music with them, to talk about values as well as about nonsense.”
While Oren was a champion for dad issues, like many of the fellow Dad Bloggers in his group, he aligned himself with the feminist cause knowing that breaking down the gender stereotypes for both mothers and fathers meant that the benefits to both parents was immeasurable. In his story titled “When You’re a Mom, There Are No Sick Days” he wrote;
“Society is slowly getting there, and although many stay-at-home dads and work-outside-the-home moms may not be comfortable with the Feminist label, they are working toward the feminist ideals of gender equality and of disproving the idea that conventional division of labor is the only natural way for parents to live.”
When he announced his diagnosis to the Facebook group in June 2014, the then 800 members rallied around him and his family starting an online charity aimed at raising $5,000 which became $13,000 within 24 hours and after 3 months climbed to over $36,000.
At the recent Dad 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, the largest conference in the world aimed at bringing together and promoting dads who write about all things parenting, it was announced that the annual scholarship programme which is funded by the members of the Dad Bloggers group would be known as the Oren Miller Dad 2.0 Scholarship Fund. While Oren was too sick to travel across the country to attend the event, he shared his thoughts on this via an open letter which was read by close friend and fellow blogger Brent Almond.
(Video of Oren Miller at Dad 2.0 Summit 2014 before his diagnosis)
A humble man, when addressing this honour bestowed upon him from the conference’s organisers, he wrote;
“And I’m grateful and honored today. As weird as it is for me as an introvert to have my name attached to anything, knowing my name will come to represent the possibility of a blogging dad being able to come here to better himself as a writer and as a dad is an incredible feeling. Knowing my name will continue to be associated with this community makes me feel immortal.”
Two days after the end of the conference, when the last Dad Blogger checked out of the hotel where the conference was held, Oren Miller posted in the Facebook group informing this community that the week before the conference he visited his doctor only to be informed that it was no longer months that he would be counting, but weeks or days.
It was only four days later that the news broke of his death. Oren leaves behind his wife Beth along with his two children; Liam, 6, and Madeline, 4. He also leaves behind his many friends in the parenting blogger community who have been taking to social media using the hashtag #Dads4Oren to express their grief and honour his memory.
The world truly has lost a great man, father, husband, friend and activist for gender equality.