Review: The Dead Moms Club: A Memoir About Death, Grief, & Surviving the Mother of All Losses by Kate Spencer
And the fifth and final rule of the Dead Moms Club? You’re totally allowed to side-eye all people who say, ‘At least she’s in a better place now.’ Screw them. Welcome. I’m so sorry you’re here.Kate Spencer – The Dead Moms Club
As some of you may know if you’ve read my previous blog posts, I lost my mom two years ago. It was incredibly sudden, unexpected, and utterly heartbreaking. Soon after we lost her, a friend who had also recently lost her own mom added me to a Facebook group for daughters grieving their mothers. I didn’t participate in the group much at first, but one day I was seeking some guidance (and you all know I love to read) so I reached out and asked everyone if there were any books that they recommended.
The first two that kept coming up were books that had already been gifted to me by my dear friend and leadership coach, Amanda King, who lost her mom when she was my age. The first was Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss by Hope Edelman. This one is more research based and discusses the commonalities between women who have lost their mothers whether from death, abandonment, or estrangement. The second was I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping, & Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One by Brook Noel & Pamela D. Blair, PhD. This particular book is more of a how-to manual for getting through any type of sudden death of a loved one and provides helpful next steps to the reader.
The third book that kept coming up was The Dead Moms Club by Kate Spencer. When this was first recommended, I’ll admit that I was taken aback by the title. It sounded so harsh. That’s definitely not the club I want to be a part of, but I have no choice, I am a member. I looked it up and the reviews sounded great so I immediately purchased a copy. Once I started reading it, I could not put it down. The author Kate Spencer has the incredible ability to tell her painful story in a way that is all at once heartbreaking, comforting, and hilarious. There is something to be said about comedians writing about difficult topics. Their observance and honesty allow them to be unbelievably relatable to their readers. Kate talks all about helping her mother through her last days as she battled cancer and the aftermath of her death.
When I hear stories of those that have lost a parent to cancer or long-term illness, I feel a strange envious feeling. I feel terrible for being jealous of those circumstances but I so desperately wish I had time to get used to the idea that I could lose my mom before it happened. I had absolutely no warning whatsoever. But the truth is that never can ever prepare you for the loss of your mother. We all thought my mom was perfectly healthy. I just got a phone call in the middle of the night saying that paramedics were at my family’s house trying to revive her. A loss like that felt impossible to process.
I am currently writing this blog post on November 24, 2019. Today is exactly two years after I saw and spoke to my mom for the very last time. My mom was at our local bowling alley where she bowled on a team with my sister, my grandma, my cousin, and our family friend just like every other Friday night. This was the day after Thanksgiving and I went down there to hang out with the family like I always did. We watched them bowl and all laughed together like we always did. Since it was black Friday, my sister, her boyfriend (now fiancé), and one of our best friends decided to go to Target after we were done to do some shopping. After they finished bowling, we all walked my mom and grandma out to their cars like we always did. I hugged my mom and said “Good night, see you later” and she said “I love you, be safe” and we left.
The next day I was busy at home and getting Christmas shopping done so we didn’t talk that day. That night at 1:48AM, I got the call that altered our lives forever. There is no way to prepare for that news. After we were told she was gone at the hospital, I drove to my apartment, packed a bag, and headed to my grandma’s house in the middle of the night to stay with her for the week. I was terrified that the unimaginable loss of her youngest child would be too much to bear and that we’d lose her that same week. After all, I was the one that had to called her to tell her that her baby died. The shock of everything kept me busy. I did every single thing that I could control and that I thought my mom would do in that situation. I planned her vigil, funeral service, burial, and reception. I wrote her obituary for the local paper and her eulogy which I delivered to a full catholic church filled with 400 attendees. I went back to work after only taking a few days off and even went back to my classes after only 2 days to take final exams.
I stayed busy because the overwhelming loss was too much to face and bear. I’m very proud of how her services turned out because they were as beautiful as she deserved and I can rest knowing we honored her properly. But it came with a hefty price. After I began therapy, I learned that I did not get to skip my grief, it was just delayed. And that at some point, I would have to go through those five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Though they may happen out of order, I would eventually have to experience them. But books like The Dead Moms Club help so much.
There are far too many of us in this club. So many of my friends and authors who have also lost their own mothers at a young age like I did, have helped me immensely through their courage and honesty. They inspire me to be vulnerable and open enough to share my own story. I only hope that it helps the next person to experience this terrible tragedy. If you have lost your own mother or a loved one, know that my inbox is ALWAYS open for you. I hope that you have the courage to reach out and ask for help, because that is true strength. Our power rests in our community and seeking help when we need it. Those who share similar experiences have the ability to help give tangible steps to processing tragedy, taking care of yourself, and reaching true happiness and acceptance again. I promise you that is happy to reach a place where you are content with your life and use your tragedy to propel you. We have to honor our loved ones that we have lost by living our best lives. And if you are lucky enough to have a good relationship with your own mother and she is still here, I hope that you cherish it as much as you possibly can, while you still can.
If you have lost your own mother or a loved one, I highly recommend these books to you. You can order them here:
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