Dead people suck : a guide for survivors of the newly departed
- Laurie Kilmartin.
- New York : Macmillan Audio, 2018.
- Non-musical sound recording
Where to find it
Media Resources Center — Audiobooks
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- PN1969.C65 K55 2018 pt.1
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- PN1969.C65 K55 2018 pt.2
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- PN1969.C65 K55 2018 pt.3
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- PN1969.C65 K55 2018 pt.4
This program is read by the author and includes material recorded in front of a live audience
An honest, irreverent, laugh-out-loud audiobook guide to coping with death and dying from the Emmy-nominated writer and New York Times bestselling co-author of Sh*tty Mom , Laurie Kilmartin.
Death is not for the faint of heart, and sometimes the best way to cope is through humor. No one knows this better than comedian Laurie Kilmartin. She made headlines by live-tweeting her father's time in hospice and her grieving process after he passed, and channeled her experience into a comedy special, 45 Jokes About My Dead Dad. Dead People Suck is her hilarious guide to surviving (sometimes) death, dying, and grief without losing your mind.
Whether you are old and about to die, sick and about to die, or with a loved one who is about to pass away or who has passed away, there's something for you. With chapters like "Are You An Old Man With Daughters? Please Shred Your Porn," "If Cancer was an STD, It Would Be Cured By Now," and "Unsubscribing Your Dead Parent from Tea Party Emails," Laurie Kilmartin guides listeners through some of life's most complicated moments with equal parts heart and sarcasm.
INTRODUCTION WHEN DEATH IS A LOSS, NOT A TRAGEDY. I knew it was coming. With every phone call, every visit home, my dad seemed older. Then one day, he was elderly. Hard of hearing, slow, shaky. All those things that happen to old people when they're about to d-- Stop. Are you about to write "die"? Yes. No! Not my dad. Whose then? But I still need him. You've had him for 47 years. That's not bad. But I'm not successful yet, I'm not married. I'm a renter. He can't die while I'm still a renter! I'm sorry. It's time. But he's only 82! Is that person in italics you? Because it was me, in July 2013, when my 82-year-old father was diagnosed with end-stage lung cancer. And it was still me in February 2014, when he went into hospice. Now, I've been aware of Death for a long time. I cried when Death took Bambi's mom and cheered when it took Jaws. I was 12 when Death took one grandparent and grown when it came for another. And yet, part of me believed that my dad would always be alive. Okay, not part. All. All of me believed my father was death-proof. That he and I would keep chugging along, with him always being 35 years older than me. Me 60, Dad 95. Me 70, Dad 105. Me 80, Dad, the oldest man in the world. It really seemed like a viable option. Then, that thing that happens to everyone happened to me. My dad died. If we are lucky, our nuclear family expands for a few decades. Siblings get married, bringing in-laws and kids, siblings get remarried, bringing new in-laws and step-kids. The holidays turn into huge affairs. Family photos are standing room only, with our parents sitting proudly in the center. Then, one day the contraction begins. Nature or God brings out the ax and starts chopping off the oldest branches of our family tree. That's the best-case scenario, everyone dying in the reverse order they were born. This book is not about a young death or a tragic death, those waters are too deep. This book is about old people dying, as expected, of old-people causes. Specifically, it's about cancer, hospice, funerals, grief, well-meaning friends, and how shocking it is to be parentless, for the first time, at 48. The book answers questions like: Q: Do my friends really care that my 88 year old mother died? A: Yes, for 20 minutes. Then they think, "Well, she had a nice, long life," and go about their day, hoping you don't mention it again. Q: Are there any rules when it comes to administering morphine? A: The sick person gets the most, the family gets the rest. Q: Can I shame my dying loved one into living longer? A: Absolutely. On the 8th of Dad's 10 days in hospice, I introduced my (then) boyfriend, who is African-American, to Dad. After the boyfriend left, I said, "Dad, if you die today, people will think you are racist.'' Dad laughed and lived two more days, and I credit my ex for that. Q: How can I make sure my mom's ashes don't fall off the mantel? A: You can't. Between earthquakes, fracking, and a child's temper tantrum, no mantel can be trusted. That's why the safest place to store ashes is directly in a vacuum cleaner. They're going to end up there anyway, so buy a nice one. Didn't your mom always want a Dyson? Q: Is it ok to be attracted to the soldier who plays Taps at your dad's funeral? A: Yes. while working through grief, you can count on your genitals to lead the way. Q: Speaking of genitals, after a lifetime of avoiding them, is hospice the time where I will accidentally see my father's? A: Probably. Dying is messy and often involves diapers. Q: When my dad's parents died, he wasn't as upset about losing them as I am about losing him. Why? A: When your parent was a child, corporal punishment was legal and popular. In 1934-35, when my dad was four years old, my grandmother introduced him to a retired Army general. For reasons Dad was never able to explain, he looked the general dead in the eye and said "damn.'' Then he ran for his life. grandma tore off after him. When she caught him, she dragged him to the bathroom and washed his mouth out with soap. Growing up, I heard about that one instance more than I ever heard about his time in combat during the Korean War. So I'm not surprised Dad went back to work the day after grandma died. When I get a drop of shampoo in my mouth in the shower, I'm nauseous for hours. If my dad had ever done that to me, this book would be called Good Riddance. Q: While watching TV, my dying loved one said, "I like this show," then slipped into unconsciousness. Can I rouse him, so his last words are more eloquent? A: Please don't, disappointment awaits. The next thing out of his mouth could be, "Who are you?'' Quotable last words are rare. Dying people have enough on their plate, we shouldn't pressure them to be profound. Besides, "I like this show'' may have been a comment on his life, not Judge Joe Brown. Q: Do I correct someone who posts, "Condolences on loosing your father?" A: No. Reply, "Thank yoou'' and be grateful they didn't write "you're father.'' HOW MY DAD ENDED UP DEAD Our family's story isn't remarkable. Ron and JoAnn Kilmartin married in 1957, and they had two daughters. My name is Laurie. I'm a staff writer on CONAN and a standup comedian. My sister Eileen is a psychiatrist (not to be confused with My Sister Eileen, a 1955 musical starring Jack Lemmon and Janet Leigh). Dad was hospitalized in July 2013. One of his arms was double its normal size. A soon-to-be discovered tumor was causing a blockage. Mom called me and said, "Your father refuses to go to the hospital until he walks the damn dog." She followed him in the car as he walked Pepsi, shouting, "Ron, get in the car." And I yelled the same thing into my phone, from a hotel room in Austin, Texas, where I was working at a comedy club. When I saw Dad in the hospital two days later, he was in good spirits, defending his dog walk. He responded to his cancer diagnosis with a grim, "Okay." I went online and found five cases of people who lived for years with end-stage lung cancer and assumed Dad would be number six. The chemo quickly reduced the tumors, and within a week, he was allowed to return home. Dad had more chemo, and then radiation, to prevent the tumors from metastasizing to his brain. ("Don't let all this cancer go to your head, Dad," I said.) He died nine months after being diagnosed with lung cancer. His tumors grew like fetuses we weren't able to abort. We tracked them on X-rays and watched them get bigger and more plentiful. Hey, look Dad, it's triplets! But instead of welcoming a new life, we were saying good-bye to an old one. While nonsmokers get lung cancer too, my dad smoked three or four packs a day for 30 years, back when doctors prescribed cigarettes for the flu. He quit when he was forty-five, after a bout with emphysema. He turned his life around. He became a jogger. He lifted weights and hiked with all his dogs in hilly parks, every single day. And all that time, some shitty little cell was sitting in his lung, waiting for the right moment to turn malignant and multiply. I'm grateful that cancer didn't strike earlier, but it could've waited another 10 years too. My parents still lived in the San Francisco East Bay, where Eileen and I grew up. We both flew home frequently, but Dad's primary caretaker was Mom. He wasn't allowed to eat solid food anymore, so she prepared his nutritional packets, and fed him through a tube in his stomach. (He was at risk of choking on solid food. Aside from a small bite of salmon during hospice, this was how he consumed calories for the rest of his life.) In mid-February, Mom and Dad came to Los Angeles. I took them and my 7-year-old son on a weekend visit to Joshua Tree National Park. Before they flew down, I spoke to his doctor. Dad's tumors were getting bigger and he needed a new round of chemo. "Should we cancel this trip so he can get his treatment now?" I asked. The doctor said, "No, you should take the trip." That was the doctor's way of telling me that Dad's disease was probably no longer treatable. His cancer was obviously following a trajectory the doctor had seen before. At Joshua Tree, Dad stayed in the car, watching his grandson climb rocks from afar. Dad and Mom returned home on Monday. The final chemo was administered on Tuesday. We were told it would work immediately or not at all. It worked not at all. Dad was admitted to home hospice on Thursday, February 20. Eileen and I both flew back on Friday morning. Dad liked charts and graphs, so we stuck a white-board calendar on the wall. We ordered Dad to drag this hospice thing out as long as possible and gave him his first goal: Live until the end of February. Every day that began with Dad breathing was marked with a red X . One of us would draw the X dramatically and say, "You did it!" (It was our version of Jerry Seinfeld's "Don't Break the Chain.") He died on Sunday, March 2, ensuring that Mom got both her and Dad's March Social Security checks. Ron Kilmartin was diligent like that. Chapter 1 THE DYING READER Planning Your Own Death: Should You Sneak Out the Back Door Like Bowie? When you find yourself in the dying stage of your life, and everything feels out of your control, remember there are two decisions you still get to make: Who do you tell and when do you tell them? Let's examine your options, none of which are good. TELL YOUR FAMILY You may be thinking, "Let's keep it small." You are a modest person. You don't want to make a big to-do, as your generation says. Well, that is sweet. And so, so naive. Allow me to describe the world you are about to leave, the one cooked up by these awful Generation X and Millennial descendants of yours. There is no such thing as private, personal, or keeping it in the family. Grief is now a shared commodity. You might tell just your immediate family, but one of your shithead relatives will tell everyone. Because that is how we suffer now. Publicly, with hashtags. You may be departing at just the right time. REMEMBER: Almost every word you say now is being tweeted by a boy or girl grandchild named Taylor. TELL NO ONE Oh, a tough guy. You're just gonna keep your PET scans to yourself and then drop dead one day? Maybe you don't want to "cause a fuss." Well, since you are clearly no expert on emotions, let me be the first to warn you, this death will indeed cause a fuss. In your wake, and at your wake, you'll leave a funeral home full of loved ones who will never get what psychologists call "closure." Closure is a thing people less macho than you need. It helps them sleep at night. And if you don't give it to them, they will resent you forever and ignore all of the other good stuff you did in life. You're robbing people of their grand good-bye. And people like their grand good-byes. They practice them in the shower like Oscar acceptance speeches. It's a conscience clearer. Prodigal sons want to come home, ex-wives want to forgive, neighbors want to admit it was they who stole your newspaper. Think of the squirming, the groveling. All the people saying, "You know what, Pop? You were right." Life's last gift: vindication. You don't want to miss it. REMEMBER: Everyone deserves one last bedside hug. Stop making your death about you, and go out like Debra Winger in Terms of Endearment. TELL EVERYONE Do you have your own Facebook presence? Have your posts been suffering from a lack of attention lately? Well, get an agent, because you are about to become famous. Once you announce your prognosis, people will be drawn to you like a moth to a flame that's about to go out. And guess what? It's nice to have strangers pulling for you. We should all have a random Australian post, "I'm prayin for ya mate." Instead of golf claps from family members weak from despair, a Facebook death means a round of applause from people you've never met. Honestly, the best time to get famous is when you're dying. The public doesn't have time to get sick of you. There's no backlash, or frantic attempt at a comeback. And just as your new fans are getting to know you ... poof, you are gone. Too soon. The tricky thing is figuring out when to post about your situation. You may have strength early in your hospice, but it goes quickly. Give yourself a few days to bask in the love. Drop your impending death post at midnight, like Beyoncé dropped Lemonade . Then let your loved ones take over. They can read good wishes to you, and respond for you. It gives them something to do at your bedside besides cry. The risk here is that, like before you were dying, you may be unable to stop checking to see who liked your post. You might literally spend the rest of your life checking Facebook. What if someone doesn't respond to your prognosis? Will you get angry? Will you poke them? Will your last words be, "That asshole didn't even wish me a safe journey." REMEMBER: Don't take your Facebook grudge to the grave. Whisper it in the ears of a loved one. make it their burden to hate-follow this person when you're gone. You might be dead, but your resentment can live on. Excerpted from Dead People Suck: A Guide for Survivors of the Newly Departed by Laurie Kilmartin All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.
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- New York : Macmillan Audio, 2018.
- Read by the author.
- Title from container.
- 4 audio discs (4 hr.) : CD audio, digital ; 4 3/4 in.
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- International Standard Article Number: 9781427297976 (52499)