Man That Loses His Mom Makes The Boldest Move To Deal With His Grief

The five stages of grief reach out with their clammy hands and grasp the neck of anyone who’s dealt with serious loss. It’s a process that unfolds differently in everyone, and all those in mourning can do is hope that they find the healing light at the end of the seemingly endless tunnel.

Charles Hammerton was a man choke-slammed by grief after he lost three members of his family in one year. Determined to overcome his deep depression, he made one bold move to heal himself and put his life back on track…with a little help from an unusual friend.

Charles Hammerton lived a good life in Falmouth, England, where he spent plenty of time with those closest to him: his mother, adopted mother, and his best friend Will. If that companionship wasn’t enough, Charles also had a great career.

SWNS / Charlie Hammerton

He was a member of the United Kingdom’s Royal Air Force, and serving his country was a dream of his since he was young. All was well until 2017, when he faced a turbulent period.

Royal Air Force

That was the year he faced unimaginable grief. Within months of each other, his mom, adopted mom, and Will all passed away. An unbearable sadness mounting in his life, Charlie knew he needed to do something to prevent himself from slipping into a deep, dark place.

So the 25-year-old quit the Air Force and sold all of his possessions. They were painful reminders of the past, and besides — he had bigger plans. Charlie was a mess, but he new he couldn’t just sit around feeling sorry for himself.

SWNS / Charlie Hammerton

One thing the Air Force instilled in him was a love of travel, and it allowed Charlie to see so much of the world. He realized the key to overcoming his grief was to travel, but he needed a partner.

SWNS / Charlie Hammerton

He knew the perfect little travel buddy to accompany him on his worldwide journey. It was a ferret he rescued named Bandit! He took the $19,000 all his belongings earned him, bought a van, and took off.

There was no place in the world off-limits to the dynamic duo, and Charlie wanted Bandit to experience everything his human owner did. Even though the little guy didn’t know it, Bandit was one lucky privileged ferret.

SWNS / Charlie Hammerton

“Just like a dog, he had a lead, collar and walked for miles which is quite unique to ferrets,” Charlie said. “When he got cold, he’d jump inside my jacket, or if he was hot he’d splash in water!” Of course, he took a few other precautions.

SWNS / Charlie Hammerton

To ensure Bandit never overheated from the intense sun in some of the countries, Charlie always carried a cool bag around keep the animal temperate. It worked perfectly, and Bandit crushed the travel game.

Bandit was even able to see the Eiffel Tower, and Charlie snapped an awesome picture where he played with perspective to make it look like Bandit was taking over the city. Attack of the 100-foot ferret!

SWNS / Charlie Hammerton

Bandit didn’t only spend time with Charlie, either. The ex-military man met lots of great people during his travels, and everyone immediately fell in love with the rambunctious rascal. Hey, Bandit wants a cocktail, too!

SWNS / Charlie Hammerton

Even though Bandit survived on a diet consisting almost entirely of kibbles, raw eggs, and some meat, Charlie let his friend try food and drink whenever he could. The trip, however, also had a special reason close to Charlie’s heart.

Not only was the purpose to see the world, but Charlie wanted to raise awareness for mental health and charities for veterans. He knew how earth-shattering depression could feel.

For two years, Charlie and Bandit traversed the world meeting people, visiting landmarks, and getting an up-close view of different cultures. Bandit was now the most traveled ferret ever to have lived!

Charlie knew what is was like to sit in the darkest depths of depression and pain, but he wanted people to know even if it seemed like there was no light at the end of the tunnel, they were wrong.

SWNS / Charlie Hammerton

“You’re here. You’re alive. You’re breathing, even if sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. Because you’re still here, there’s still something to learn, there’s still someone to teach and there’s a reason to your suffering,” he told others.

SWNS / Charlie Hammerton

The pair traveled to 14 countries total, and even though it was a grueling schedule at times, they were always grateful to have each other. Sadly, only one week after they returned home to England, Charlie received another emotional blow.

Bandit, sadly, passed away. “Bandit and I parted ways when he packed his spiritual rucksack and hitchhiked heavens highway a year ago. It was a week after we returned to England, so it was the perfect end to our crazy adventures.”

SWNS / Charlie Hammerton

Although Bandit was gone, Charlie continued his forward momentum. He published a self-help book called Before Our Adventures, an inspirational narrative about dealing with the hardships of depression.

He also started a company called Adventure Bandits, which coaches children to embrace nature, themselves, and overcome personal roadblocks standing in their way to happiness and success.

Charlie’s advice is simple: “You’re down, but you’re not out, because a winner never quits, and a quitter never wins!” He was thankful to all those before him that inspired him to travel with Bandit, as he was following the example of some bold travelers.

SWNS / Charlie Hammerton

Rich East was a twenty-something-year-old, adventurous Australian with a go-getter attitude. In 2013, the young man felt unsatisfied with his typical suburban life in Hobart, Tasmania, an island state off the continent’s south coast.

“I used to have a career,” Rich said, “a house with a garden, lots of stuff, but what I didn’t have was happiness. I had felt over-stressed for a while, kind of stuck in a way, so I decided to make some changes.”

In 2013, sick of being trapped in the city, he began going on small off-roading and hiking trips around Tasmania in the company of a small stuffed lion — and another interesting companion.

He was in the company of his best friend Willow! While most cats wouldn’t make for the easiest travel companions, Willow loved to explore Australia with her human and didn’t mind the long drives at all.

“Willow is very curious and loves to explore,” Rich said. “She spends most of her days snoozing on top of the roof rack, under the van, or sleeping in her cat carrier. On cold days you will find her snuggled up in my blankets.”

“Willow and I have an unspoken agreement,” Rich continued. “She will always come back to the van, and I will always wait for her. She rarely wanders more than 100 meters from the van, but when she does, I can find her with her tracking collar.”

With his company sorted out, he started traveling a bit more on his days off from work; on those trips, he found a new passion: photographing all that Tasmania’s natural beauty had to offer.

“For the first time I felt free,” he said. “Free to design a new life for myself,” (and Willow!) In 2014, Rich quit his job, sold his house, and bought a van. “I threw away everything that didn’t bring me joy. The premise was simple: build a new home in which I could travel.”

A camera at the ready, Rich documented the renovation of the van, installing a ready-to-go bed in the back, a small kitchen in the middle, and a front seat that could turn around to make the most of his living space. Oh, and of course, a surfboard on the roof.

Once the van was completed a year later, Rich bought a map of Australia, on which he drew the route he planned to take. He would have to take a ferry from Tasmania to the mainland and follow the coast all around the country. With everything packed up and ready to go, it was time to hit the road.

“It was hard to think about all the things that I was leaving behind,” Rich said, “so instead I thought about all I was taking with me and all that I would gain. I left my town and everything I knew for a new life and the unknown.”

The first few weeks he saw as many places as he could, surfed at different beaches, explored a variety of landscapes, and of course, met a kangaroo or two. “People travel for lots of reasons,” he said. “For me it’s simple: go somewhere I’ve never been before.”

As the journey continued, Rich slowed things down, staying in places for longer periods to truly take the time to appreciate his surroundings. He and Willow bonded on the road — and this gave him an idea.

Rich invested in several cameras, tripods, and drones to film their adventures. He dabbled in photography and put together short videos. Perhaps it was his creative skills that earned the adventurers so much online attention.

On the journey, Rich grew as a photographer. Aside from filming everyday tasks like driving, cooking, and hanging out, he captured all the breathtaking scenes that he and Willow stumbled upon almost every single day.

And of course, Rich’s favorite subject to capture was Willow. Every once in a while, he could easily snap a photo of her lounging around, but other times it took a long and careful set-up — and a whole lot of patience.

Once Rich started to post these photos and videos on social media accounts under the name VanCatMeow, the two gained thousands of fans. The public loved the photos so much they wanted to buy prints. Thus VanCatMeow began sustaining itself financially.

Rich’s other hobbies include surfing, reading, and woodworking, the last of which was another way he made a little extra cash for gas and MeowMix.

By 2018, VanCatMeow’s Youtube Channel gained over 2,000 subscribers. People were absolutely in love with Willow and Rich. With his photography skills ever improving, VanCatMeow will surely continue to grow as long as the duo is up for more adventures.

At the end of 2018, after touring the whole coast of Australia, Rich and Willow were driving inland, even going off the grid for a month in the Outback. What the future holds is unclear: will Rich settle down again or continue his travels in other countries?

Recommended From Honest To Paws

Stay up to date on the
latest trending stories!

like our facebook page!