How do you cope with the loss of a parent when you're a teenager - Ryan Gallagher artwork
Teenage Kicks Podcast

How do you cope with the loss of a parent when you're a teenager - Ryan Gallagher

  • S2E18
  • 53:55
  • October 21st 2020

Ryan Gallagher is a firefighter from Burlington in Canada. When he was just 16, Ryan’s father died as Ryan himself was performing CPR.

Ryan talks about how he never really 'coped' with what happened, just getting on with his teenage life, doing his usual things.

It was only when he was a little older, and started drinking, that he realised alcohol made him feel 'better,' and he started using it to avoid dealing with difficult feelings around his father's death.

Having used alcohol and food to prop himself up through several years, Ryan now has a wonderful attitude to his mental health, which he describes as getting out of his head and creating his own story.

He has the most wonderful, down-to-earth tips for anyone trying to cope with unhealthy habits. In his podcast Mental Edge Lifestyle he aims to show anyone struggling that "they're not as different as they think." That whatever you're going through, there's always someone going through the same, and that there is a way through it to a brighter part of your story.

I loved Ryan's honesty, his ownership of his problems, and his acceptance that he is the only person who can change the things he doesn’t like about his life. It takes work, and it takes time, but you have what it takes to do it.

I hope this episode helps even just one family to start to understand how to approach the emotional challenges that come with the death of a parent. I’d love to hear from you if it has, or if you have any suggestions for future topics on the Teenage Kicks podcast. Just email me on [email protected], or you can find me on Instagram and Twitter at @iamhelenwills. I appreciate every message, and love to hear from my listeners.

Where to get support with teen mental health concerns

Where to connect with Ryan

What next for the Teenage Kicks podcast?

We started this conversation with a great insight into what it takes to become a firefighter. I'm now thinking it would be fun to have some careers-based episodes on the podcast! What do you think? Let me know if that's something you'd like to see.

More teen mental health resources

There are lots more episodes of the Teenage Kicks podcast – do have a browse and see if I’ve covered anything else you might find useful. And if you have a suggestion of something you’d like to see talked about on the podcast please do email me on [email protected] I have loads more fabulous guests coming up to help families navigate some of the most complicated – but wonderful – teenage parenting years. I’ve also got some posts on the blog that might help parents with other teenage parenting dilemmas, so do pop over to Actually Mummy if you fancy a read.

Thank you so much for listening! Subscribe now to the Teenage Kicks podcast to hear all my new episodes. I'll be talking to some fabulous guests about difficult things that happened to them as teenagers - including losing a parent, becoming a young carer, and being hospitalised with mental health problems - and how they overcame things to move on with their lives.

I'd love it if you'd rate and review the podcast on iTunes too - it would really help other people to find it. You can also find more from me on parenting teenagers on my blog Actually Mummy, and on Instagram and Twitter @iamhelenwills.

For information on your data privacy please visit Please note that I am not a medical expert, and nothing in this blog or in the podcast should be taken as medical advice.

Teenage Kicks Podcast

Welcome to the Teenage Kicks podcast, where we take the fear out of parenting - or becoming - a teenager. The internet is full of parenting advice, from when you feel those first baby kicks, until they reach secondary school. And then it stops. No one is talking about teen parenting problems; so we’re going to.

Essential listening for teenagers and their parents, as well as those who work with young adults; Teenage Kicks has teen mental health at its core, and each episode will empower young people to tackle their own problems, and give parents the guidance to know how to help them.

Each week Helen speaks to real individuals who've experienced the issues that young people are dealing with now, and they don't sugar-coat it. From exam nerves and career worries to issues around sexuality and consent, we get tips and advice from expert guests who understand what it’s like to be a teenager today.

Helen will also be chatting about tough teenage problems like cyberbullying and self-harm, drugs, alcohol and teenage pregnancy, all with a heavy dose of reality from someone who's been there and made it through to the other side.

Teenage Kicks for Parents:

As parents, we understand some of our kids’ struggles, but let’s face it, it’s been a while, and things have moved on since we last panicked over a detention! Teenage choices today can seem alien to their parents because teenage life has changed so dramatically since we were young. Teenage Kicks helps you unravel topics like social media, sexting and teen self-esteem so that you can figure out what your child needs support with, and what’s just normal teenage behaviour.


Teenage Kicks for Teens:

Teenagers and parents come at things from different angles, we know. But teenage life can be challenging, and the support of your parents can make navigating tricky dilemmas easier. Teenage Kicks guests aren’t adults who’ve read a textbook; nor are they heavily invested in your day-to-day safety, like your mum and dad. They are real people who’ve been through what you’re dealing with, and they have the inspiration and advice you need to handle it yourself.

Join Helen each week as she chats to a different guest about topics affecting teenagers in 2020, and helps parents and teens to open up a dialogue that will make life easier to navigate on all sides.

You'll also find me chatting about teen parenting here:

Useful websites:

  • The Mix - good information for under 25's
  • Shout - for anyone struggling with anxiety or depression

This series of the Teenage Kicks Podcast is sponsored by Blue Microphones, who gave me the fabulous Yeticaster mic for all my recordings. It's really straightforward to use, and gives me great sound quality without too much editing.