Emily and Craig Campbell with their sons Zephaniah, Elijah and Gabriel. Photo: Supplied.

Double tragedy for Nelson woman


A year on from the death of her husband, Nelson woman Emily Campbell did not expect to face death again so soon.

Her “incredibly hilarious” and “beautiful” young son Zephaniah died unexpectedly on July 1. The toddler was almost two.

Emily says doctors thought he might have suffered from a small heart arrhythmia, without symptoms, and when he caught a virus his heart shut down during the fever.

“It was nothing we could foresee or do anything about,” she says.

It was a scary, shocking ordeal and she said, at first, her heart did not want to go on.

Emily had already lost her husband Craig Campbell to cancer in July last year. She described him as an electrician by trade, but a musician and artist at heart.

“He was amazingly creative and such a people person.”

He was a friendly, outgoing person who worked hard for his family, she says.

“He married sort of late, at 39, and one of his biggest dreams was to be a husband and a father.”

It was awesome that in his last years he got to do that, she said.

“He absolutely adored us. He was very loving, kind and gentle. ”

Craig Campbell loved having adventures with his family, she says.

“He was very much an enjoy the moment type of person.”

The couple really appreciated life because of what they faced after he was diagnosed with melanoma several years ago, Emily says.

At the beginning of last year he started getting really sick, she says.

“The cancer had just spread everywhere and six months later he died. The thing that got me through that was my relationship with God.”

“He prepared my heart for what was ahead, helped me to grow fierce and have the strength to walk that out.”

After everything she has been through, the brave mum said she still trusted in God’s bigger plan.

“I didn’t think I would walk through another death so soon,” she says.

All of her children were such healthy kids – “just full of life, fun, strong boys”.

Zephaniah was strong-willed but also quite peaceful, she says. Just like his father he loved people – he was really communicative, even without words.

“He would just light up around people.”

“Everyone who knew him would remark on what a happy boy he was,” she says.
“He was always smiling.”

His two older brothers, Elijah, 5, and Gabriel, 3, adored him.

“They also gave each other a hard time and had fun,” Emily says. “They really loved playing and making each other laugh.”

She credits her family, friends and church community as being a huge support.

“That support has been amazingly helpful for me to walk forwards.”

Emily said she had not thought of starting a Givealittle page until two important people from different parts of her life suggested it to her on the same day.

“There are lots of people who aren’t right here with me, but they are heartbroken and they really want to do something. I have so appreciated the love and support in whatever way people want to show it.”

“It helps my heart hugely, and practically, obviously.”
– NZ Herald