Laurie Kilmartin, comedian and author of Sh*tty Mom, has written a funny, lovingly irreverent guide to dealing with the loss of a loved one: Dead People Suck: A Guide for Survivors of the Newly Departed.
Kilmartin’s father died in 2014. Kilmartin live-tweeted through the ordeal. Later, she realized that people are terribly uncomfortable with and unprepared for dealing with the death of those closest to them, so she wrote the Guide.
In it, she recounts the difficulties of dealing with death, and shines a light on the humour that can be found in such a dark time. “I’m a comedy writer, so I sort of manage my emotions by organizing them into jokes – which is terrible for relationships, but it’s great for your Twitter feed.”
Kilmartin recalls telling her son that his grandfather is dying. Her son’s response: “What about his iPad?”.
Kilmartin’s father died on the night of the Oscars. “He laughed as much in death as he ever had in life at an Oscars monologue.”
The book includes chapters entitled:
- “Undo Years of Bad Parenting with the Gift of the Unexpected Check”;
- “The Obituary: A Bad Time for Writer’s Block”;
- “When the Wrong Parent Dies First”;
- “Your Parent Died before You Got to the Hospital, AKA One Final Attempt to Make You Feel Guilty”;
- “Atheists: Prepare to Have Your Unfaith Tested”;
- “The Cemetery: Who Will Ignore Your Mother’s Grave When You’re Gone?”;
- “The Only People Who Get Truly Upset When an 83-Year-Old Dies Are 82 Year-Olds; and
- “’I’m Sorry for Your Loss’; The Aloha of Condolences”;
amongst many others.
Listen to Kilmartin’s interview with CBC’s Brent Bambury here.
Thank you for reading.
While placing an advertisement in the classifieds section of a newspaper is a common enough occurrence in the administration of an estate, it is rare that a family attempts to get two birds with one stone, and advertises to prospective buyers for the deceased’s possessions in the obituary itself. The Toronto Star recently reported on a light hearted and humorous obituary which was recently featured in their newspaper which had gone viral on social media. In an entertaining nod to a life well lived, a family wrote an obituary for their late 94 year old mother which in part contained the following:
“She left behind a hell of a lot of stuff to her daughter and sons who have no idea what to do with it. So if you’re looking for 2 extremely large TV’s from the 90s, a large ceramic stork (we think) umbrella/cane stand, a toaster over (slightly used) or even a 2001 Oldsmobile with a spoiler (she loved putting the pedal to the metal), with only 71,000 kilometers and 1,000 tools that we aren’t sure what they’re used for. You should wait the appropriate amount of time and get in touch. Tomorrow would be fine. This is not an ad for a pawn shop, but an obituary for a great Woman, Mother, Grandmother and Great-Grandmother born on May 12, 1921 in Toronto…”
No stone was (literally) left unturned by the obituary, where the family goes on to provide the following description of their late mother:
“Her extensive vocabulary was more than highly proficient at knowing more curse words than most people learned in a lifetime. She liked four letter words as much as she loved her rock garden and trust us she LOVED to weed that garden with us as her helpers, when child labour was legal or so we were told. These words of encouragement, wisdom, and sometimes comfort, kept us in line, taught us the ‘school of hard knocks’ and gave us something to pass down to our children.”
While some may call the obituary unorthodox, it is clear that she was well loved and will be missed by her family. At the end of the day that is all any of us can really ask for, as, in the words of her family, “(s)he leaves behind a very dysfunctional family that she was very proud of.”
Have a great weekend.
Listen to Talking About Wealth and Personal Finance.
This week on Hull on Estates Suzanna and Ian review the pullout in March 18th’s New York Times and talk about the importance of dialog before and after death.