Tag Archives: adult orphan

…and then a bad day happens.

So in my last post, I talked about dealing with the holidays.  We just had U.S. Thanksgiving.  I’m originally Canadian and celebrate CDN Thanksgiving in October (which really isn’t a big deal), but have begun to celebrate the U.S. festivities as well.  All my friends and family are in Canada and can’t take time off during the week to come join us, so this year it was just me, my husband and our little boy.  It was actually a really great day.  Time off work, no scheduling demands, other than cooking a turkey.

Daycare was open on Black Friday so I dropped off my boy and did some shopping.

Now, Saturday Nov. 28th is our anniversary – married 7 years now.  So my awesome husband made plans for his parents to watch the boy over the whole weekend.  I was super excited.  So Friday night at “bedtime” he drove 2 hours to his parents to drop off the boy.  Then drove 2 hours back to spend the weekend with me.

Our weekend alone was super productive.  I accomplished so many things around the house in 1-2 days that would normally take 1-2 weeks, in the evenings/weekends at home while playing with my boy.  Of course, being our anniversary, we had time together too, candles and all.  😉

Now you have to understand that this was the first time the boy (18 months old) has spent a full weekend away from both parents.  At times, he is with momma when dadda travels, or with dadda when momma gets a weekend break alone.  But never away from both of us at the same time, for 2 whole days and nights.

When I went to pick him up, his face just lit up.  He was soooooo excited to see momma again and he hugged me longer than he ever has.  As much as I really enjoyed the time without him, being a woman again, I realized that he was really scared that maybe momma and dadda would not come back.  This is normal for toddlers and small kids, at this stage.  Without words, it’s hard for us to communicate fully, but I’ve been told that this is the time of life for a toddler to have real separation anxiety.

Since we returned on Sunday, he has been clingy.   But I have also been unnaturally moody as well.  It made no sense to me.  I had such a great weekend, why would I suddenly feel such heightened emotions after a relaxing weekend?

Then it hit us.  After calm weekend, no child, I let down my guards to fully relax.  But the moment my boy hugged me, I recognized the feeling of fear and abandonment from being left alone.  I knew it because I felt it as a child and I still feel it now, from the loss of my dad when I was just 5 years old.

Now, as you may know, young children who lose a parent feel a sense of abandonment.  They just don’t know how to process abstract emotions of grief with their still developing brains.  And to lose a parent, who is viewed as a stable source of security in the world.  Well, it’s tough to deal with.  Why did they leave?  Did i do anything wrong to make them leave?  Am I a bad boy/girl?  These are typical feelings for a young child who loses a parent.  There is a lot of literature on young children and grief.  Personally, I only started to process these childhood emotions as an adult in my 20’s.

I instantly recognized that fear of abandonment in my little boy when I hugged him.  It took me 2 days later to realize that it triggered my own childhood trauma.  And after letting my guards down so much from a relaxing weekend, it was so much easier for that lost and broken little girl to return, as there were no walls holding her back from my regular adult life.

As my husband said:  “You carry so much hurt, so much emotion inside you every day.  Such hurt that I can never begin to imagine.  And you hold it back with a wall so it doesn’t interfere with your daily life as an adult, as a professional.  But when it does come out, it’s a tsunami.”

Recognizing the feeling of abandonment in my boy triggered my own residual feelings of abandonment.  It never really goes away, I just learn more each day about myself and dealing with such emotions.  It doesn’t help that my mom has since passed as well, and never got to meet my boy.  It just muddies the waters of already complex emotions of grief.  And still, I need to re-assure my boy that momma will not leave him, when I know darn well that a stray accident or illness could make me a liar.  As a mom, I know what he needs to hear because I still want to hear it too.  I know I need to tell him these things, even when I know them to be false.  We are all just dust in the wind and eventually, even moms and dads can’t be around forever, as much as we want them to be, or we ourselves want to be for our own children.

Today is Tuesday, and I am having a bad day.  That lost and broken little girl just wants her mom or dad to tell her it’s ok, so the adult woman can pass it on to her little boy.

On Holidays and Extended Family

Hey world!

U.S. Thanksgiving is coming soon, and with it, family, holidays and those times when adult orphans can feel the loss of parents even harder.

When I first met my husband, he was vegetarian and I had no interest in cooking meat.  Then, when my mom passed, I realized that I never learned how to cook a turkey or a roast beef – two of my favorite holiday meals.  It hit me so hard.

Who would cook turkey on Thanksgiving and Christmas?

I felt alone and adrift, without that one meal and home to go to, without my anchor.  Yes, other relatives made meals too, but it just wasn’t the same.  Not the same home, not the same standard clean-up rules as mom enforced.  And I’ll be honest, my mom made the perfect gravy, and I’m a gravy snob.  So I set out to cook one myself.

I decided to try the turkey.  My mom always put the bird in the oven at night, slow-cooking on low, then cranked it higher in the morning.  We would always wake up to the smell of turkey.  Very mouth watering experience, makes you forget about the morning coffee!  So I really wanted to do this myself.  I realized after a few tries that cooking the bird was easy.  And I’ve even perfected my gravy, but I never learned the secret to her home made, in-the-bird stuffing and nobody else does it the same.  One day, I will perfect this too.  I’m still working on my roast beef as well.

Learning to cook these meals myself has given me comfort.  I know that at least one part of a holiday that I look forward to, is in my control and I can carry on the traditions we had.

But still, I remember the first few years of feeling that void.  My extended family is somewhat fractured (long story for another time), so there aren’t many other holiday dinners or locations that feel the same as mom’s.  For me, it’s been about re-creating mom’s meals and traditions for my husband, brother and now my son.

For others who have larger or more welcoming extended families, it may be easier to attend a meal and feel connected.  But it still may be bittersweet.  Even if you are surrounded by aunts, uncles, cousins, etc., it may also remind you of your own parents who are not there.  You may feel alone, even surrounded by people/family members.  My advice – try not to isolate yourself even more.  You may feel like hiding away, but try to make an appearance and put on a smile, even just for a few minutes.  And try to find a quiet corner of solitude in those busy situations, so you have an exit if you really need it.

Holidays are always hard for those whose loved ones have passed.  Try to find new traditions or ways to incorporate old traditions into your new lifestyle.  It’ll be different for each person and each situation, but try not to get overwhelmed by loss.  Remember that life is about living.

I know others out there will immediately understand these feelings.  If you are an adult orphan, I don’t have to explain it.  Just know that you are not alone.  If this blog reaches even one person, I know I’ve done my job.

For everyone else reading this – if you know an adult orphan in your life (or anyone who lost close family members), please try to include those who are feeling lost or adrift.

So hang in there this Thanksgiving… or Christmas, or any other holiday you may celebrate.  Your parents are with you in spirit.  Just remember that.

Until next time.


I’m back!

A year ago when I started this blog, I was intending to write about my experiences as a younger adult orphan.  However, at the time, my new baby was less than 6 months old and our business had just grown from husband-wife team to employing 3 others.  Suffice to say, life a year ago was complex and busy.

I was a new mom, struggling with becoming a mom without my own mom around for help and support.

But now I’m back and ready to share my experiences, from growing up without dad, to being a mom without mom’s advice and everything in between.

My blog will focus on those every day life struggles of younger adult orphans and will also feature samples of chapters for a book I’m writing.  The book will feature my own story, advice and expertise and will also include interviews with other adult orphans.  I hope to interview younger adult orphans from all walks of life, from regular folks to noteworthy celebrities.

If you have a powerful story or advice to share, feel free to comment or email me and we can speak further.

Until next time, remember you’re not alone, even if it feels like it!




Adult Orphan .com

Hello World!

I am an adult orphan, and this is my story.

Orphan – a child, usually under 18, with both parents deceased  (like Batman or Oliver Twist)

Adult Orphan – a legal adult (or teenager) with both parents deceased

The are many books on grief. There are only a few on adult orphans.

Of the books or on adult orphans, most focus on the middle aged+ “baby boomer” who loses a parent around the age of 65-80+ and nothing about the 15-35 year old people out there.

I lost my dad at age 5.

(It was actually 4 days before my 5th birthday.)

I was lucky to have my mom longer, but even she passed at 52, when I was just 28 myself.

(Not even 2 months after my summer wedding)

There are grief and bereavement support groups in most areas. For parent loss of a child. For children who lose a parent. Even for loss of a pet. Grief is grief right?

I attended one group for adult orphans in my local area. It was a pleasant group, but I was 30 years old in a room full of 50+ ladies and one guy. One or two may have been 45ish.

My point?

I always tell people this, about the books, and the group:

It’s all nice. But most people who I bond with over loss of parents are about the same age that my parents would have been, so it makes the experience bitter-sweet.

There is less material by, about or for a 15-35 year old audience.

As a society, we expect a 50+ to lose a parent at 80+ from old age.

But think about….

The 15+ teenager, guy or girl without mom or dad for advice on dating and sex, or other gender-based issues.

Or the 25+ adult orphans without mom and dad for weddings, birth of children, or other life lessons or accomplishments.

And myself, a 32 year old seeking parenting advice, a grandparent babysitter and the stories of myself as a baby to compare to my son.

This website will chronicle my thoughts and my story as a Young Adult Orphan.

This website is also a community for other adult orphans. I welcome others to comment, share your story, or contact me personally.

I hope to both share my perspective, my advice, my story, but I want to learn from others too.

And most important, I want to give hope to other adult orphans that you are not alone.