The Dead Moms Club – a book review

by Kaylah Stroup
Dead Moms Club review

It has been SO long since my last blog post about books. It’s one of the most popular post requests I get. The thing is, I just have not been reading very much lately... at all.

I have to be in the mood to read and on top of that one bad read will set in motion months of not reading. So, that’s how it’s been lately. Read some crummy books a while back and just haven’t picked up one since. BUT I have been feeling the urge to find a book about grief. (Please don’t stop reading, I swear this book could be beneficial even to those who haven’t lost yet!)

It was one of the first things I did once I stopped crying every second of the day – look for a book that would help me through this terrible time. I was specifically on the hunt for something secular, no mention of religion, spirituality, of my mom being in a ‘better place’, etc. I also didn’t want a self-help book that was essentially just going to tell me to do yoga and volunteer. I read tons of reviews but came up empty-handed.

I had basically given up on it when I got a DM on Instagram recommending The Dead Moms Club by Kate Spencer. The name really struck me, I looked it up immediately.

‘Kate Spencer lost her mom to cancer when she was 27. In The Dead Moms Club, she walks readers through her experience of stumbling through grief and loss, and helps them to get through it, too. This isn’t a weepy, sentimental story, but rather a frank, up-front look at what it means to go through gruesome grief and come out on the other side.’

Honestly, the name alone made me want to buy it but after seeing she lost her mom at 27, I had to buy it. I felt like maybe she could offer some nuggets of wisdom for me since we lost our mothers at a similar age.

Dead Moms Club review
my mom’s plant that I rescued from near-death

I feel like this is a really weird place in my life to lose my mom. There’s obviously no great time but as the great Britney Spears once said: “I am not a girl, not yet a woman.” (LOL) For real though, I’m married and have been out of the house for 11 years at this point but I still depended on my mom for so much. At her funeral someone said to me “Kaylah, now you have to take care of your dad.” and it completely blindsided me because I’m the baby! Who takes care of me? Grief brings up ugly selfish feelings and I just hoped that The Dead Moms Club could help me understand and deal with those. Spoiler – it didn’t solve everything but it certainly helped!

I was merely a couple of pages in before I knew it was the book for me! I want to say ‘I tore through this book’ but honestly, it was too relatable. I could barely read a chapter each night and most of the time I needed a couple of days in between each of those. I sobbed through it. There were times I had to quit midchapter because I couldn’t see. But… it felt good! I laughed. I cried (A LOT!) and most importantly, I felt understood. I realized some universal truths (wow, that sounds dramatic) and dealt with some shitty feelings.

Grief is super lonely. At some point, you’re going to lose someone important to you so these are feelings that everyone feels, perhaps in slightly different ways but still! In the depths of it though, you can’t imagine that anyone has ever felt that way too. Reading a book by someone who has gone through the same thing is so helpful.

Being able to pick up this book and put it down as I pleased was just what I needed. Talking to a real live human is obviously ideal but sometimes I don’t want to talk about it, and other times maybe I do but don’t want to unload like that on my husband. This was almost like a workbook for me. Reading it in small doses gave me time to think about and process what she had written.

Dead Moms Club review

I don’t know that this is the book for everyone because I recognize that we all go through and deal with grief differently. The Dead Moms Club was 100% what I needed though. I can’t recommend it highly enough!


More posts on grief, my mom and loss in general –

my mother’s plantsgrief & road tripsI cry over four leaf cloversgrieving in the digital agethe greatest losssix months / things I want to tell you

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Angela Tolsma November 21, 2019 - 4:31 pm

Sometimes the right book comes into your life at the right moment. Sounds like this one was exactly that.

Sara November 28, 2019 - 3:00 am

Hey Kaylah! I’ve been reading your blog for quite a few years now and love it dearly. I don’t comment very often, if ever, because… lurking is easier? Not sure, but wanted to step out of the comfy confines of lurking to say that I really empathize with your grief and the way you write about your mom is very touching. My dad died a couple months after your mom passed away. He was a complicated guy who was often cruel, especially to himself, but I loved him dearly. You and I are close to the same age and I feel you on being “too young” to lose a parent. It’s really strange. I will check out “The Dead Mom’s Club” and I’d like to recommend “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion if you haven’t read it already. Not religious or cloying at all, I promise.

Thank you for always making the world a more colorful and vibrant place. <3

Michelle Davis December 4, 2019 - 10:59 pm

I love this post. I really appreciate you sharing. I lost my mom very suddenly (aneurysm and pulmonary embolism) the summer before my freshman year of high school in 2010. It was a very isolating experience because at that point most people I knew hadn’t lost even a grandparent. The thing no one really tells you about losing someone close is that the second year is by far the worst. By the third year though it gets easier. Time doesn’t heal the pain like so many people say, but I feel by that point you’ve had the chance to re-learn how to live your life without that person in it.

Something I didn’t realize I was doing at the time, but now see that it was helpful, was I watched a lot of shows and movies that made death a lighter subject ( Ghost Whisper, Pushing Daisies, Dead Like Me) which I think helped me process such a serious thing.

Funny enough your blog was also something that helped me through that second year after my mom passed. It got me interested in plants (now I’m a landscape architect), exploring, and sewing which really helped me. I’m sure you’ve heard this from a lot of people, but I really think your mom is proud of you and all the people you’ve touched without even knowing it.

Michelle D.

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