Dad Died, Then Mom

Siblings' Spiritual & Inspirational Memoir as Caregivers

Non-Fiction - Memoir
224 Pages
Reviewed on 10/24/2022
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Author Biography

Hi, I’m Malia and I am a wife, a mom to two dogs, and the author of "Dad Died, Then Mom."
Family, friends, dogs, and dancing, are what I live for (and eating vanilla ice cream cones once-in-a-while).
During a usual day, I’m likely to be at my computer, throwing a ball for my dog, relaxing on our outdoor swing, or watching a movie. I am pretty much retired, but continue to teach a few ballroom and Latin dance classes; I practice patterns often so I won’t forget them – well, at least the ones I can still remember.
Darrell (husband), Ellie (Labrador), Shelby (Border Collie/Labrador), and I live full-time in our vintage Prevost bus. Spending summers near Minocqua, WI and winters near Pahrump, NV takes us from lush woods and lakes to barren deserts and mountains. We love them both!

    Book Review

Reviewed by Essien Asian for Readers' Favorite

The loss of a loved one is always a painful episode for anyone but the death of a parent is a completely different kind of feeling. Words cannot fully define the cascade of emotions the individual passes through. This was the case for Malia Arries and her siblings who had to stand together as a family and support themselves through the final days of not just one parent, but two. Malia did the last thing most people would consider doing at the time of her father's passing on; she created a journal and with the cooperation of her siblings recorded the final days of her father and then those of her mother when she too passed on a couple of years later. Dad Died, Then Mom is her story.

Dad Died, Then Mom is an emotional true account of events. The attention to detail is quite impressive. Credit must go to Malia Arries for having the presence of mind to scribble every single detail down, even the supposedly mindless ones. She tells her story in an immersive manner so that I felt like I was with this unique family, experiencing their painful countdown. When they shared their father's coins among themselves, it moved me personally for its symbolism with the passing of the torch of life. The unusual supernatural events that she was astute enough to record as they happened are worthy of further investigation. Dad Died, Then Mom is a unique memoir filled with information that would aid a discerning reader in dealing with the pain of loss. This is one book everyone should read.

Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

Dad Died, Then Mom: Siblings’ Spiritual & Inspirational Memoir as Caregivers is a memoir about love, spirituality, and caregiving that chronicles the adversity, struggles, and rewards of children raised to believe in loyalty to the family above all.

Over six years had passed since her parents died, but Malia Arries felt compelled to take pen in hand and chronicle her family's experiences. Caregivers who are in the position of helping their loved ones will be glad she did, because this is as much a chronicle of love in service and assistance as it is a story of aiding parents in their final passage from life.

As the story opens, Dad is about to die. This process receives in-depth coverage that brings not just events but emotions and atmosphere to life: "A lingering smell of rhubarb custard pies Mom had made over the years now competed with odors of medicines, cleaning supplies, and body wipes. Fresh lilacs I had picked earlier that day and placed by Dad’s hospital bed offered a glimpse and scent of spring."

The minutiae of the moment is captured with an immediacy that creates a "you are here" feeling in the reader: "I had always loved hearing their grandfather clock, musically announcing the quarter hours and then banging out the full hours. But on that night, I was consciously and unconsciously focused only on the sound of Dad’s breathing."

As uncharted territory is experienced in different ways and navigated with the uncertainty of familiarity combined with the certainty of spiritual reflections and love, readers receive important guideposts to connecting the end-of-life experience with their own ability to laugh and create memorable moments right up to the end.

Each parent has different end-of-life experiences which both challenge and embrace the life left. As the siblings learn how to navigate these changes and maintain the sense of love and loyalty that lets them help each parent in different ways, readers receive thought-provoking, moving insights into the caregiver's mercurial role and adjustments needed to make them work.

Arries acknowledges the difficulties but tempers them with insight and affection: "There were some challenging times caring for Mom which became endearing and amusing as we thought back."

The result is a moving memoir. Readers usually receive poignant, angst-driven caregiver experiences, but it's refreshing to note and experience the underlying love, faith, and joy that permeate this account of caring for two parents on their different end-of-life journeys.

This makes Dad Died, Then Mom a standout in caregiving literature, especially recommended for Christian libraries and discussion groups interested in books that document shifting family experiences and relationships and the honor that comes with celebrating the life that Malia's parents shared.

N.N. Light's Book Heaven

Heartfelt and tender this memoir will bring tears to a reader's eyes. Told in the first person and basically chronologically presented this book flows well. The day-by-day trials and tribulations of home hospice care are accurately described. This book is both the story of the caregivers and a tribute to two fine people...her mom and dad.

There is another aspect to this book that is laudatory. This book also sheds light on the oft-overlooked work of hospice workers, caregivers, and personal care workers. The sheer attention to detail needed to do this job is incredible. One cannot read this book and not appreciate the hard work done by the humble caregiver.

A personal journey through end-of-life days. This book is one of melancholy and love. Recommended to readers of memoirs. Recommended to anyone who has ever had to put their loved one into someone else's care. A powerful true story of faith, love, and family.

C. Frank

I was so impressed by the honest way that Malia wrote. I choked up, my words broke, and I tapped my heart with my fist...tears welling, as I said to my wife, "It got me," after finishing the book. That was all I could say. This book will feel personal to all who read it. Malia has a way of drawing readers right into her parents' living room...or right around their kitchen table.

Rolly Johnson III

Both of my parents passed quickly without any family members present. This journey showed the strength and value of coming together both as a family and a community. Each of their journeys was different, but the poignancy of page 111 spoke to the realities of life. This was not only a thoughtful read but a peaceful read as well. Very well done.

M. Ken

This book carries a lot of emotion. There's a lot to learn from the way these siblings cared for their parents.
Friends and family are not left out. Each person came to express their love in one way or another. The love between her father and her mother was very much evident in the book. It's so encouraging to read that love can last till such an old age.
The message of this book needs to be known by a lot of people.

Faith, Family & Cherished Memories!

Faith, family, and cherished memories are clear in this book! This book carries the peace of God with a great testimony. I found this book brought me a lot of peace after losing my own mother to cancer. The family photographs in the book were not only heartwarming but made me feel almost like part of the family. I felt as if I had been on this journey with Malia and her family as I read each chapter. I admire the way the family cared for their parents as they were passing. It’s something that I would love our culture to embrace more often. It’s an honor to love and serve your parents as they are passing. There is so much love in this book and it’s very well written. I didn’t want to put it down. This book will stay in my library and I’m so glad that I found it.


I was first tempted to give “Dad Died. Then Mom” four stars. However, Malia Arries has written an honest reflection that could have easily been a runaway sentimental indulgence. It’s not. It’s factual; it’s healing, and she has normalized death.
This last point is where the strength of the book lies. She’s normalized death. Here we are in the 21st century, a hedonistic society obsessed with the politics and sociology of self. Eternal mortal life is a common expectation among consumers and a hustle been sold by disreputable therapists, alternative medicine practitioners, psychologists, TV self-graduated doctors and quacks. We will all face death. Every member of our family will die. Perhaps we will need to walk that journey with one or more of them. And hopefully someone will be there for us when it’s our turn to pass over.
Malia and her siblings show us how it’s done with compassion and authenticity. There are moments of raw emotion and passages of heart-warming tenderness. My favorite scene is when Malia’s dad is taken to his favorite restaurant and the waiter, Pasquale, comes out to embrace and say goodbye to his old patron.
Sugarfoot, the family kitty, plays a key role in both parents’ passing. A reminder of the deep ministry our four-footed furry friends so generously pour into our lives.
I recommend Malia’s book. She shows us how it’s done. "Dad Died. Then Mom" is worth every one of those five stars.