This is a book about what grief feels like.

"Author Victoria Clayton, a year after losing her parents, embarks on a painful drive-about to regain some semblance of herself in Grief in the Van: An Adult Orphan, A Cat and A Tiny Home-On-Wheels. In the spirit of Steinbeck, Clayton takes readers on a journey of self-reflection, discovery, and recovery – a love letter to the land, to adventure, and to the healing power of solitude. Throughout the narrative are raw accounts of personal grief in all its unpredictability and severity – authentically told and affecting. This deeply nostalgic and visceral memoir reveals a challenging path toward progress, and may provide comfort and guidance for anyone wrestling with this unifying human emotion."

Self-Publishing Review, ★★★★

When I was forty-seven, the quintessential spinster daughter, my father died after a long decline into dementia and six months later, my mother lost the will to live.

A sad story, but hardly tragic. Natural, you might even say. Expected. Move along now. Nothing to write about here.

This is the book I wish I’d had during that first year without my parents.

I went to the library looking for insights into grief. I didn’t want memoirs of illness and death, long biographies or complex relationships. I wasn’t interested in the person who had died, or how they had died.  I didn’t want subject studies, meditations, how to find the ‘gift’ in death.

I wanted to know what happened to the ones left behind.  How did they live with the ache?  


This is my story. A year after my parents died, I went away to the country in a motorhome, a tiny home-on-wheels and I declared my grief to the sky and the trees and the animals.

As we shifted – Dougal my dog-like cat, the Van and me -  the grief did too.

If you’ve lost older parents, perhaps gently and peacefully, (or perhaps not), maybe after years of care-giving (or not) and you’re finding it all a bit deranging, you’re not alone.

There are not many books for people like us. This is one.

About Victoria Clayton

I was born in the UK of a Scottish mother and an Australian father and grew up in Melbourne. I have been a field archaeologist, excavating in Syria, Turkey, Jordan and Australia and an English teacher in Melbourne and China, among a ridiculous number of other occupations.  I love travel, reading, museums, libraries and things found in holes in the ground, particularly ancient figurines. I never thought I would, but I also know a bit about dementia, loss and grief and being an adult orphan. Now I live in a van somewhere in Australia with Dougal, the cat, and I write about all of it.