Man makes headlines for beautifully moving obituary written for his special-needs sister
An obituary Erik Sydow wrote for his 61-year-old sister went viral on social media due to the love and grief it managed to capture in just 189 words.
D.G. Sciortino

It’s hard to truly put into words the love siblings have for one another.

But Erik Sydow did and, at the same time, helped the entire world to feel that love.

The effect of his words was so palpable because of the raw emotion behind it. He poured every bit of love he had for his sister into her obituary.

That’s probably why the obituary titled “A Special Sister” ended up going viral. Karen Ann Sydow passed away on Sept. 2021 at the age of 61.

She was born with cerebral palsy and could only regularly speak three words: Mom, Donalds (for McDonald’s which she loved), and piano (since she loved music).

The obituary outlined Erik’s love for his sisters “who never had wants or misgivings.”

It detailed the difficulty COVID caused for the siblings trying to spend time together over the last two years.

“… only recently were we getting back to normal,” Erik wrote.

While Karen could only speak three words, Erik knew she had an understanding of the important things and could feel emotion.

Their father passed away in 2007 and their mother in May 2021, which left Karen saddened.

The last time the siblings saw each other they went on a sunny bike ride, and that’s when Erik learned how much Karen was missing mom.


“She laughed and clapped her hands. When we stopped by the lake for picnic lunch, Karen said ‘Mom, mom.’ I held her and told her ‘mom is not here anymore.’ Karen totally out of the norm put her head on my shoulder and tears ran down her cheek,” Erik recalled in his writing.


Karen passed away two weeks after that.

“I think she really wanted to be with mom. Karen, I wish I could have made you laugh one more time. I needed you too. Love your brother Erik,” the obituary concluded.

Erik also thanked those who helped to care for Karen at Valley Village and Tierra del Sol.

The obituary was so moving that it was tweeted by an LA Times reporter which ended up going viral.

That reporter, Daniel Miller, ended up reaching out to Erik to interview him for a story and let him know about the viral tweet.

“He had no idea that his tribute had been widely shared, and he was touched by the outpouring of support. But he was more interested in talking about his little sister,” Miller said in a follow-up piece.


Erik told Miller that his sister was his father’s top priority and when he passed he had just one request for Erik: to make sure that Karen stayed happy.

“I’d do anything I could to make her laugh,” he said.

Karen knew how much Erik cared for her. Whenever they would part he would always tell her “I love you.” One day, 10 years ago, he learned that she truly understood this.

“She said it two times, clear as a bell: ‘I love. I love,’” Erik said. “It only happened that one day. I don’t know what brought it out of her.”

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