the greatest loss

by Kaylah Stroup

This is my least favorite post I will ever write. I feel like I need to put it out there to start to heal though…

Last Saturday, completely unexpectedly, my mom passed away from a heart attack.

We have matching heart tattoos on our thumbs. We each drew half.

I don’t think anyone is ever prepared to lose a parent but to say this took me by surprise would be a complete understatement. As far as anyone knew she was healthy. We had even had a conversation about women & heart attacks recently. I never thought she’d have one two weeks later.

Right now I’m still in shock. It doesn’t feel real at all. My brothers and I have been spending lots of time together at my parent’s house with my dad. Sorting through photos, watching home videos & just being together has been such a great source of comfort but every night when we go home I can’t help but want to text my mom to talk about it. I want to tell her how much we love and appreciate her, and how we all know how lucky we are to have such a great mother.

I feel lost without her.

I’ve found grief to be a real weird beast so far. Sometimes I’m fine, just so happy to have had so many years with such a special woman then not ten minutes later I’m sobbing because it isn’t fair. The tiniest things set me off too. The thought of never smelling all the candles at TJ Maxx with her again or never eating her eclair cake again breaks my heart.

My mom was my greatest supporter. She seemed genuinely annoyed whenever anyone would leave a comment they were The Dainty Squid’s ‘biggest fan’ because that was her title. She encouraged me in everything I did and rooted me on in all of my interests. She also spoiled me rotten. 28 years old yet still her baby.

I’m going to miss all the stressed out texts she’d send me whenever a spam call showed up as from Cleveland. “Kaylah! Are you okay!? Answer me! Got a Cleveland call!” I’ll miss our girl’s shopping days and eating at Five Guys with her. I’m going to miss the way she smelled. I’m wearing her pajamas now. They smell so comforting. I’m truly going to miss every bit of her and our relationship.

44 years together this year.

There aren’t words to express how upset I feel that she was taken from me. I’m trying to look on the bright side, at least she didn’t have prolonged suffering or have to stop doing the things she loved the most. I’m so glad she got to see her baby girl get married and go on the most epic family roadtrip last summer. I’m so freaking thankful for those memories. Traveling around the west with my parents was already special but now that trip means even more.

photo by Madeline Barr

I feel frustrated I wasn’t able to write more in this post about what an amazing woman she was. Life feels so foggy right now. Even in my best moments this week, I still feel like I’m moving at half speed. Thankfully Jeff was able to take the week off work to take care of me. (Gosh, I wanted to tell my mom so bad. She loved how good he was at taking care of me!) When we went to the grocery store the other day it took all of my energy. I hope you’ll be understanding that the blog might be a little quiet for a while. I’m looking forward to getting back real life but everything just feels overwhelming at the moment.

Please keep my family and I in your thoughts & if you’re feeling generous tweet me an animal photo because those seem to really help!

Freshly born! You can just see how pleased to finally have a little girl.

Mom, I know you can’t read this anymore but thank you for everything. I’m sorry for ever being a shithead, especially during my teenage years. I’m the luckiest girl in the world to have had you as my mom. Love you always.

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Lisa April 17, 2019 - 7:54 pm

I’m so sorry your lost your mom in such a shocking way. Grief is a crazy rollercoaster. Be kind to yourself and take time as you need it. That is awesome you had such a good relationship with your mom. And I just love about the heart tattoo. Praying for your comfort.

Kaylah April 17, 2019 - 7:58 pm

Thank you, Lisa. <3

Carol Greene April 17, 2019 - 8:11 pm

Oh, Kaylah, this was heartbreaking news. When you have a great Mom like yours, your lives are intertwined in a glorious, intricate tapestry of love. Probably the longest strongest bond. You can’t text her anymore but you can talk to her and “hear” her answers. The loss of your Mom isn’t something you “get over”. But you will learn to live with it. What a remarkable Mom! I never met her and I miss her! Sorry if this is a jumbled comment but losing a Mom is the most complicated journey I’ve ever been on. My heart goes out to you and Jeff.

Bonnie Luhman April 17, 2019 - 8:25 pm

Kayla, My words are inadequate………..I know how full of sorrow you are at this moment in time and I was shocked to receive the news, but my first thought was I was so happy she got to be at your beautiful wedding. Your wedding was so unique and you had your family out there to share it all with you. I am happy you had those extra special moments to share with her. I know she was so happy for her daughter. I loved all your posts about going to your mom and dad’s and going in the pond, and getting your pup used to going in the water….your dad raising the little fox pups…….it sounded like such happy times. 🙂 I wish I could tell you something uplifting…I lost both my parents and it naturally broke my heart but what really helped me was to keep a “Dear Mom and Dad” journal. I write them letters when I am feeling lost without them or on their birthdays and Christmas. It really helps because I believe every good thing going on in our lives they know about and they rejoice with you. The scripture says “there will be no more tears” so that means they won’t know the hurtful things and that’s so nice to know. My heart is so heavy for you but I promise one day sooner than you think, you will be able to look at photos and remember things and you will be filled with joy once more. I promise. xoxo Bonnie


Mindi April 17, 2019 - 8:55 pm

I am so very sorry for your sudden loss of your mother, and that you’re having to go through this at all. It’s so touching to read about the bond the two of you shared. I don’t know how much of a comfort it is to say so, but thank you for sharing in your grief…as I know that your readers are such a supportive group of people and we’re all here to support you. I’m wishing you and your family all of the best. Sending hugs and love.

Ash April 17, 2019 - 9:12 pm

I’m so sorry for your loss, I lost my dad as a teenager and you never ‘get over it’ but you learn to live without them. Only time can heal. Keep your loved ones close and don’t stop talking about yourselves memories with her 💜

Angela April 17, 2019 - 9:38 pm


Nicole April 17, 2019 - 11:42 pm

It sounds like you had an amazing connection with your mom that will never truly go away, it just changes. I called my mom’s phone for months and left messages like I normally would after she passed. I hope you can continue to find comfort in those around you and your memories of your mom.

jess April 18, 2019 - 12:43 am

I am sorry for your loss. Take care of each other.

Natacha April 18, 2019 - 2:45 am

My heart breaks for you. I’m not a family gal myself, but I’m really really sorry for your loss. Take care of yourself, lots of love to you.

Sara April 18, 2019 - 3:14 am

Hi Kaylah,

I’ve been reading your blog for many, many years and sincerely appreciate all the hard work you do. You make life more colorful and fun. I am deeply sorry for you and your wonderful family. Your mom seemed like an amazing lady and I’ve always been inspired by how close you and your family are. It makes me smile to see snapshots of your family because my own family isn’t that great. Your mom must have fostered that closeness and I am sure she would take comfort in how all of you are banding together in this time of grief. Grief really, really sucks and there’s no easy path through it. Death is really strange in general. My best friend in the whole world died 3 years ago and my husband and I always go out for ice cream on her birthday and death day to celebrate her. It helps. <3

Jessica April 18, 2019 - 4:41 am

Oh kaylah I’m so sorry this happened. I don’t have the words to say how I feel, other than simply I FEEL. I never knew your mom, or you irl, and this post is heartbreaking and beautiful. I lost my soulmate of a cat (Matilda) last August and still sometimes I find a hair of hers or say her name and I burst into tears. It’s so shitty to have to actually FEEL all this shit and yep grief is strange. So, this stranger from the internet is thinking of you 😘. I’m glad you have such an awesome husband and animals to help you through this horrid time. All the love in the world, Jessica and her new cat Marceline.

Lesley April 18, 2019 - 6:40 am

I’m so sorry. You were sooooo lucky to have her in your life – celebrate her love for you. I know it’s going to be pretty tough, but her strength lives on through you and you WILL survive and continue to grow – because she made you like that.

I’d send a picture of my lovely cat Rosie, if I knew how!

My thoughts are with you all the way from England.

Abbey April 18, 2019 - 9:47 am

I’m so sorry for your profound and sudden loss. May you continue to find comfort in the shared love and memories your whole family has for your mom during this impossibly difficult time. Sending so much love your way. <3

Heather April 18, 2019 - 9:55 am

I’m so very sorry for your loss… I can’t imagine how hard it must be. Sending you and your family lots of love and light. I’ve been reading your blog for such a long time and always thought you had such cool parents. So very sad that she was taken so soon.

Jane April 18, 2019 - 10:15 am

I’ve been following your blog for a long time and have always enjoyed the posts about the visits to your parent’s house. They seem like such wonderful and cool people.
Losing a parent is so hard. I actually teared up a bit reading your post.
Sending you light and love during this incredibly difficult time.

Sam April 18, 2019 - 10:18 am

Grief is definitely a strange beast and it hits everyone differently and the same, at the same time. Your mom seemed like an amazingly cool woman – even from those pictures you can see how much of a bad ass she was and how much she loved you. Sending your entire family all my love!

Katie April 18, 2019 - 11:38 am

My heart breaks for your loss. Know that it hurts so much now because your love was so big. Strangely it is that big love that will get you through as well. Be kind to yourself, take the time you need. Sending love to hold you and your family up during this difficult time.

Diana April 18, 2019 - 11:50 am

This is heartbreaking news..I’m so sorry for your loss. You obviously shared a special bond with your mom. The picture of her helping you with your wedding dress is just beautiful.
My thoughts are with you and your family.
”Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal”

C April 18, 2019 - 12:14 pm

This made me cry. Thank you for your honesty and bravery here. It’s just not fair. It’s funny how we can be homesick for people. That emptiness that goes from a dull ache to a searing open wound in moments, and then fades away again. Be well.

Maira April 18, 2019 - 2:26 pm

Hi Kaylah, I’ve been following your blog for years but never left a comment before. I’m so sorry for your lost. This post made also me cry uncontrollably, you wrote so beautifully about your mother. I know too, that when the day someday comes, inevitably, when my mom is no longer here, I’ll feel completely lost too. I wish you all the strength on this sorrowful time. You will find yourself again, eventually.

Valerie April 18, 2019 - 3:25 pm

I’m sorry for your loss. *Hugs*

liz April 18, 2019 - 6:39 pm

My heart breaks for you right now .Losing a parent is hard 💔. Be kind to yourself and take the time to cry , scream and laugh at the good times . Sending you hugs and holding space for you x

Joanna April 18, 2019 - 6:42 pm

Such a beautiful post. May your memories be everlasting

Caroline April 18, 2019 - 10:22 pm

Please take all the time you need! Your readers completely understand. I can’t imagine what you must be feeling and I’m so sorry. I lost my favorite brother to a random accident when I was 15. Grief utterly sucks. Death is bullshit. It’s so not fair for you not to have your mom with you anymore. I am so sorry. But I’m so glad you had such a beautiful mom and such a special relationship with her. You’re in my thoughts and I’ll be lifting you and your family up.

Anthea April 19, 2019 - 3:50 am

I don’t know you personally but I’ve been reading your blog for years. I have been thinking about you and I am sending positivity and love your way.

Jessica April 19, 2019 - 8:38 am

My condolences to you. There are no words during this time. Sending you love.

Freja April 19, 2019 - 1:20 pm

I lost my dad very suddenly in a car accident, so I appreciate how much of a shock this is for you and your family and I’m so sorry you’re having to go through this. To say it’s like having the rug ripped out from under you is a massive understatement. Grief is a crazy feeling, please don’t feel a need to rush back to things, take as much time as you need. I’m so happy for you that you have such a positive relationship with your family and are able to support each other ♥

Janine Boparai April 19, 2019 - 2:13 pm


I am so sorry to hear about your Mom. My heart goes out to you and your family. I have been reading your blog for a long time and know how close you are to your parents. I’m so happy to hear you are being gentle with yourself and allowing grief to move as it needs to. So important. I send all of you healing thoughts and blessings as you learn what life is shaped like now.

Robin Cox peterson April 19, 2019 - 4:00 pm

Dear Kayla, I went to school with your Mom. Probably K-12. My heart hurts for you, your family, and friends. I started following your FB and blog because of her. We weren’t the closest of friends, but knew each other and so thankful to share time with her at our class reunions. She will be remembered by many, and when any of us lose a parent, no matter how old we are, the hurt is to our depth. Just know, she will be watching over you, proud as ever!

Margaret April 19, 2019 - 4:23 pm

I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, and all of the beautiful photos of your mom. She seemed like such a cool and adventurous and supportive woman. Take all the time you need to take care of yourself and be with your family. Us readers will understand if you need some time away. Sending you love.

Emily April 19, 2019 - 6:07 pm

Fuck this sucks. SO much. Losing a parent is so weird and unfair. It totally feels like a club that you can’t get out of now. I lost my dad just over a year ago. I’m not sure anything ever helps other than time and the love and support from those close to you, especially your pet family. But from a stranger who has followed you for a bit, this sucks. I’m mad at the unfairness of the world for you, but also share in your gratefulness of the memories and love you have with her. <3

Amanda April 19, 2019 - 7:40 pm

Kaylah, I pretty much never comment, but I’ve been reading for a long time and when I read the first few lines of this post, my heart dropped into my stomach. . Thank you for sharing so much about your loved ones over the years. Please know that I am thinking of you and your family from afar with love and empathy. There is absolutely nothing I can say that will make this better, but I admire your loving tribute here to your mom: not just the one today, but the one you built over the life of this blog.

parker April 20, 2019 - 12:24 am

I’m so sorry for your loss. Sending love to you and yours.

ocean April 20, 2019 - 12:21 pm

so incredibly sorry. i am sending a sincere wish that you get through this time intact, that you live each day honoring your mom, that your heart begins to heal. <3

Kell April 20, 2019 - 2:12 pm

I’m so, so sorry for your loss. My boyfriend died almost 7 years ago, and here’s what I can say: it gets easier. You’ll never stop missing them, but the pain will come less often and the joy of memories more often. Whenever it hurts still, I remember that grief is the price we pay for love, and it’s worth it.

Death sucks, though. Grief is awful. There’s no way around that.

I’ve been reading your blog for many years and love it, though I’m not sure I’ve ever commented. Thinking good thoughts your way. I know the next chunk of time in your life won’t be easy, but it also won’t be your forever. Take your time coming back, however and whenever you want to. Everyone’s path is different.

Kate April 21, 2019 - 11:19 pm

Oh, Kaylah, I am so, so sorry to hear of your mom’s death. Grief is a terrible beast, & the loss of a beloved parent never becomes any less painful – though I promise that, in time, the grief will become easier to bear. In the meantime, may you find solace in memories of happy times with a mother who sounds like she was such a light in your life. Please take care of yourself, & let others take care of you while you mourn. Thinking of you.

Mykki April 22, 2019 - 1:19 pm

Oh my goodness, I’m so sorry for your loss. There really isn’t anything I can say or offer that will be of help (other than tweeting you funny animal gifs) but know that you and your family are in my thoughts.

Sending positive energy your way; I hope the pain eases soon.

Jennifer April 22, 2019 - 2:27 pm

I’m sorry for your loss. I can not even begin to imagine what this is like. My thoughts and prayers go out to you. Take your time to mourn, and this blog can wait, your readers understand.

Ariane April 23, 2019 - 10:06 am

I’m so sorry for your loss Kaylah.
I’m not a very spiritual person in general, but I’m sure she knows how much she meant to you, and how grateful you are for everything.
Grief is strange, and it is different with everyone. So please do take some time for yourself. Don’t push yourself too hard. It’s okay if you need time. Your readers will be here when you feel ready to come back.
I’ll make sure to tweet you some cute pet pics when I get home from work later.
Take care, Kaylah. xx

Christine Gunter May 22, 2019 - 3:06 pm

I am so sorry for your loss. May her memory always be for a blessing ❤

Abby p. March 21, 2021 - 5:02 pm

Hey there, I wanted to say first I’m very sorry to hear about your mom, I lost mine 2 years ago to cancer, we had a rough time my adolescent years but had gone through a lot together and became really close. I’ve followed you on and off since gosh I’m not even sure at least since I was in the 9th grade (could be wrong just feel like it’s been a really long time) and I’m 26 now. I’ve always enjoyed coming back and seeing what you’ve had going on, you’ve inspired me a lot and I wanted to say thank you for recommending the “Dead moms club” book. I just got it recently, read maybe two chapters and had to put down, I too wish I would have found that sooner. Even though a good amount of time has passed, grief is always there it’s just different now.
Anyway, I hope you’re well.

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