Monday, February 12, 2018

Dead People Suck by Laurie Kilmartin

I'll admit Laurie Kilmartin's nonfiction book, Dead People Suck: A Guide for Survivors of the Newly Departed, isn't for everyone. In fact, I don't know that I would recommend the comedian's book to "survivors of the newly departed". But, it's actually a humorous book with some very practical points. But, it would probably offend many people who recently lost someone. I think you could really only see the humor after quite a bit of time has passed.

Kilmartin "made headlines by live tweeting her father's time in hospice and her grieving process after he passed." She loved her father, and didn't want to let go. She has advice for the dying, for the survivors, and one excellent piece of advice for those expressing condolences. She says to them "I'm sorry for your loss is the Aloha of condolences". In other words, that's the only expression you need when someone has just lost someone. Don't worry about saying anything else. "I'm sorry for your loss" works if the person lost someone they loved, or if they lost someone that they had a difficult relationship with. Don't try to come up with some other expression.

Passwords! Get passwords! Kilmartin recommends that someone get the dying person's computer passwords. You'll need them for everything - social media, banking, email. Get the passwords!

Here's one I like. "Remember: Obituaries are like resumes; update yours every three years." And, she recommends that you write your own if possible. Who knows you better? Who knows what you really want the world to know about you?

I could go on and on because Kilmartin's book hit home for me. But, here's one most of us could get behind. Laurie Kilmartin lost her father to cancer. My husband died of cancer. Everyone knows someone who died from cancer, and most of us lost someone we love to it. She wants to shame smart people into finding a cure. Here's her note. "Dear Silicon Valley, Could one of you f**king nerds develop a cure for cancer instead of another stupid app?" Think about it. How many brilliant people are developing computer apps and programs?

It might not be socially acceptable, but Laurie Kilmartin's Dead People Suck is on-target. She says so much that survivors think or would like to say. Read it now, before you lose someone, or read it a long time after. That's when this book will work.

Laurie Kilmartin's website is

Dead People Suck: A Guide for Survivors of the Newly Departed by Laurie Kilmartin. Rodale, 2018. ISBN 9781635650006 (hardcover), 240p.

FTC Full Disclosure - The publisher sent me a copy of the book, hoping I would review it.


Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Jackie agrees, but wants to add Alzheimers to the list.

Lesa said...

She's right, Jeff.