Family finds joy, connection by decorating Brewer man’s grave

Madisen Look never got to meet her father, but has grown to know him through visiting his grave
Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 6:58 PM EDT
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KENDUSKEAG, Maine (WABI) - Brewer’s Branden Look loved spending holidays with his family. After he passed away in 2013, they wanted to make sure he was still included in their celebrations.

“This is a happy place. It’s always been happy. It’s what we do, right?” said Pammy Emerson, Branden’s mother.

“Mhm!” replied Madisen Look, Branden’s daughter.

Emerson always made the holidays a special time for her kids, Misty and Branden Look.

“He loved all the holidays. Christmas, Halloween, 4th of July. Ever since they were little, we would put on this humongous Halloween party. We’d have the adults participate, and they’d dress up and jump out of trash cans and boxes. It’s always been fun,” said Emerson.

In November 2013, Branden passed away at just 24 years old. At the time, his wife, Ashley, was pregnant with their first child.

“Oh, this is Madisen’s first Halloween. She’s the monkey with the bow,” said Ashley, pointing to a picture they keep in a mailbox next to Branden’s grave.

Ashley, Emerson, and the rest of the family wanted to make sure Madisen had a chance to know her dad. They marked every holiday with a visit to his gravesite in Kenduskeag.

“She was just an infant in car seat. She has this great big yellow sign holding up, ‘Happy Daddy’s Day.’ That was actually the first time we started everything,” said Emerson.

From there, the idea of leaving decorations at the cemetery took off.

“We usually get more decorations every year,” said Madisen.

Christmas is another favorite. They set up a large tree with decorations hand-painted by Madisen.


“It brings joy, and we laugh, and we have fun. It carries on his memory. It’s the least we can do. She loves it, and it just makes me feel happy to do it for him even though he’s in Heaven,” said Emerson.

Though they never met, Madisen and Branden share a special bond, thanks in large part to this unorthodox tradition.

“I love him,” Madisen said.

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