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Reform Magazine | June 14, 2024

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I am... an orphan? - Reform Magazine

I am… an orphan?

Am I an orphan?

Can you call yourself an orphan as an adult? The word implies child, right? But at what point do you stop being someone’s child? All I know is that, rightly or wrongly, in the lead up to my 30th birthday – a few years ago now – I certainly felt like an orphan. Sometimes, I still feel that way.

I don’t like being pitied, or thought of as a victim, even when such feelings about myself arise from within me. I cringe when detecting sympathy from others, over its preferable relation, empathy. I tell myself: I’m no sob story – though I sob more than I care to admit. I’ve had some pretty major life losses, and I’m told repeatedly that my series of losses are unusual for someone my age. For others’ sake, I hope that’s true.

I’m lucky. I do not have my parents but I have invaluable family members, friends, and the support of a church family. Mostly, I genuinely feel the parental love of God. I have benefitted from being able to afford private counselling. Though I once feared that joy would never return to me, it turns out I can still feel it.

I must have known it was possible for my parents to die. But I never expected it. My first major heartbreak was the loss of my dad, who died of a form of lung cancer when I was a teenager. My mum died more recently, also of cancer. They suffered long. So, people often argue, subtly, that their deaths must have been expected. Well, no. Sorry. That’s not how it felt for me. …

This month’s column is anonymous. If you have a story to share, email


This is an extract from an article that was published in the July/August 2019 edition of Reform.

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