This is a book about what grief feels like.

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.

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.

What Readers are Saying

Grief in the Van: An Adult Orphan, A Cat and a Tiny Home-On-Wheels is a delightful read. As the author roams about the countryside with her precious cat Dougal, she discovers the freedom of being able to re-live her memories and express her grief, ultimately enabling her to maneuver her way through the pain of loss, bringing deep healing and a readiness to embrace the future with great heart”. RL, Melbourne

“As a part-time ‘grey nomad’ and a widower I found this book extremely helpful in dealing with grief after losing a loved one. I could relate, and sometime laugh, to the trials and tribulations of being on the road full time. Dealing with grief is a personal thing and the author has done a marvellous job describing how she is dealing with grief. This book has definitely helped my journey”. GS, New South Wales

"The reader understands her grief and follows her journey of questioning and acceptance, mixed with day to day life in a van with a cat and the humorous side of it all. I would thoroughly recommend the book on many levels". RC, Newcastle

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’m interested in a lot of things.

Travel, the past, books, libraries, language, things found in the ground and in museums, particularly ancient figurines. Ideas. Things to think about.

I never thought I would, but I also know a bit about dementia, loss and grief and being an adult orphan. Learning what a well-lived life looks like.

Now I live in a Van, my tiny home-on-wheels, somewhere in Australia with Dougal, the dog-like cat, and I write about all of it.