Brother's Poignant Obituary For 'A Special Sister' Goes Viral

A brother's heartfelt obituary for his beloved sister has struck a chord on social media as an earnest and honest account of love and loss.

Erik Sydow, 64, originally submitted his obituary for his sister Karen Ann Sydow, 61, to the Los Angeles Times.

Karen, who died on September 5, lived her life with cerebral palsy. Her obituary, titled "A Special Sister" was first published in the Times on September 7.

However, one of the newspaper's reporters, Daniel Miller, was so moved by the 189-word tribute, he decided to share it to Twitter, describing it as "remarkable."

The contents clearly resonated with many online, with Miller's post retweeted over 27,500 times and liked by more than 248,500 people on the platform.

It described Erik and Karen's relationship, their final encounter and the pain that comes with the passing of a loved one.

"In memory of my sister who never had wants or misgivings," the heart rending obituary reads.
"She was born with Cerebral Palsy and could never speak more than three words."

The piece lists those three words as "mom", "Donalds" and "piano."

Karen, we are told, referred to McDonald's, her favorite restaurant, as Donalds while she was alive.

The obituary goes on to explain how the pandemic, as it did for so many, made it "beyond difficult" for Erik and Karen to see each other. In fact, the article explains they had only just lately begun to spend time together once again.

Erik goes on to describe their final outing together in emotive details.

"We took a sunny bike ride; she laughed and clapped her hands," he writes. "When we stopped by the lake for picnic lunch Karen said 'Mom, Mom." Erik recalls holding his sister closer while he explained "mom is not here anymore." Their mom died back in May while their father previously passed away in 2007.

Reacting to his words, Erik recalls his sister doing something out of the ordinary. "Karen totally out of the norm put her head on my shoulder and tears ran down her cheek. Yes, she understood," he writes.

Two weeks later, she died of heart and respiratory failure. "I think she really wanted to be with mom," Erik writes in the obituary, before sharing one last message with his "special sister."

"Karen, I wish I could have made you laugh one more time. I needed you too."

Remarkable obituary in today’s paper.

— Daniel Miller (@DanielNMiller) September 18, 2021

A poignant and undeniably powerful piece of writing, Erik's words hit home with so many online.

"My sister also has cerebral palsy and seeing this is a true reflection of the love I see in my sister and mom," Gennicaashley wrote in response. "I needed to see this today."

AndrewSammons9 commented: "This is so genuinely heartwarming and deeply human in such a dark and cold time" while HumphreysZoe74 described it as a "beautiful expression of his sister's love for life."

One of the most emotional responses came from tinaeva32195298 who responded: "As a mother of a child (21) with cerebral palsy who is non-verbal but has a laugh that is the most contagious that you'll ever hear, this made me cry so much this morning."

Mosatch8, meanwhile, spoke for many by writing: "If the point of an obituary is to make you feel you knew the person and to share their loss then the fact her brother did so in so few words is astounding. What a beautiful tribute."

In the wake of the response to his post, Miller decided to get in touch with Erik, who reflected further on his relationship with his sister Karen.

"My sister was my father's number one priority," he told the Times. "He left me very few instructions when he passed but... he just wanted her to continue to be happy."

Newsweek has contacted Miller for comment.

A person reading a newspaper.
Stock photo of a person reading a newspaper - a newspaper obituary has touched the hearts of thousands after being shared online. Getty/seb_ra