Hi, my name’s Charly, and 14 years ago I lost both my parents within 10 months of each other. My Dad died suddenly of a brain tumour while I was on my Gap Year, and then during my first term at university, my Mum’s stomach cancer returned and she died 2 weeks after getting the diagnosis.
Orphan is a funny old word. It’s one that you seldom hear, unless you’re watching an old play or film. But suddenly, overnight it became this label which would in some way define me for the rest of my life. At the time, I was still a teenager and yet none of my friends’ parents had lost both their parents, let alone my friends. I remember being referred to the University counsellor, and the first thing she said was ‘I’ve never had to deal with someone who has lost both parents before.’ Everyone around me seemed clueless. And no one really knew what to say.
Fourteen years on, and while it still hurts that Mum and Dad aren’t here, their absence has become a daily reality. And over the years, as friends have lost parents, I’ve often found myself being the ‘voice of experience’. When you lose someone, no one knows what to say. Often you just need someone to say ‘I’m here for you’. And so in part, that’s what this blog is. A way for me to be here for you, if you’ve just lost a parent, or have found out that someone close is terminally ill. A way to share some of the tips I picked up along the way, and perhaps share some of the practical realities which can come with being orphaned – everything from probate, to selling a house, to working out how you get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.
I’d like to make this blog a collection of letters, from other people who have lost parents. To show you that you’re not alone, no matter how alone you are feeling right now.
As I realised when I first got my head around the ‘o’ word … every superhero I could think of was an orphan too