Brother’s obituary for his sister has become an internet sensation

Summarizing your feelings for a loved one in an 189-word obituary is no easy task.

LA Times writer Daniel Miller was so moved upon reading the memory of his sister’s brother that he retweeted the obituary and found the answers poignant and never-ending.

In an interview for LA Times Today, Daniel joined host Lisa McRee with More.


What would you like to know

  • Summarizing your feelings for a loved one in an 189-word obituary is no easy task
  • LA Times writer Daniel Miller was so moved upon reading the memory of his sister’s brother that he retweeted the obituary and found the answers poignant and never-ending.
  • What Erik Sydow shared was the story of a woman who “never had any desires or apprehensions”. Karen Ann Sydow, who died in September, suffered from cerebral palsy and could only pronounce three words: “Mom”, “Piano” and “Donalds”, a reference to McDonald’s, her favorite restaurant.
  • In August, Erik took Karen to Balboa Park in the San Fernando Valley for a picnic and a bike ride. It was their last time together

Erik Sydow wrote the obituary which went viral on Twitter, and it was titled “A Special Sister,” in honor of his sister Karen Ann Sydow.

“Karen was a remarkable person, according to her brother. She suffered from cerebral palsy, grew up in West Hills and had a happy life. Although she was impaired, she loved music and loved McDonald’s. There were weekly trips to the local McDonald’s where her favorite meal was a cheeseburger, fries, and a Coke. She had a loving family that supported her. Karen passed away at the age of 61 last month, ”Miller said.

Even though the obituary was only 189 words long, Miller believes it expressed universal themes of love that many people can relate to.

“Eric talked about simple things, and I think maybe that was what really resonated. He mentioned the three words Karen could pronounce, namely mom, piano and Donalds, which referred to McDonald’s, your favorite restaurant, ”Miller said. “And I think it’s through those kinds of little details that people really tied into the story of Karen and the brother who wrote the obituary.

Miller’s wife was the one who showed him the obituary, and they both cried. After retweeting the essay, it went viral.

“I was just blown away. I took a photo of the obituary and posted it on Twitter and it exploded instantly. In no time, there were thousands and thousands of likes, thousands and thousands of retweets. The last time I checked, there was something like 250,000 likes and something like 15 million people had seen the tweet, which meant millions and millions of people had read this obituary. The response has been simply overwhelming, ”Miller added.

The tweet received over 2,000 responses, and people also shared their personal stories of pain and loss.

“It was really touching and really, really moving because these messages were pouring in, not just on Twitter, but also in my inbox,” Miller said. tell me how much to hear the memory of Eric from his sister moved them. I also heard from people who had lost a loved one, not from cerebral palsy, but from people who were grieving, and they too were touched by Eric’s words. Like I said, there was just something universal about the way he expressed his love for his sister. That’s the main thing, and that’s why it has traveled so far. “

Due to all the replies, retweets and stories, Miller said he reached out to Eric to show the impact of his essay and learned more about Eric’s relationship with his sister Karen.

“I just wanted to know that this tweet was becoming a phenomenon, I wanted to know if Eric had any idea what was going on,” Miller said. “I contacted him and he was stunned. He didn’t know this was happening. It’s safe to say he’s not on social media, and of course he was so grateful for all the kind words. . I started to share with him some of the comments. I just started reading from my phone, I opened up the Twitter app. I think Eric, as Karen’s brother, has been a protector everything throughout her life, and they had suffered a loss earlier this year with the death of their mother and their father passed away in 2007. So really, it was Eric’s job to provide for Karen. had a support network, but Eric saw himself as the person to look after her, and that’s a real responsibility, and I think it really colored their time together.

In addition to meeting Miller and learning about the viral tweet, Eric told him about his last day with Karen.

“Eric shared part of that day in the obituary, and he told me about it as well,” Miller said. “They couldn’t see each other so much because of the pandemic. It was very difficult to visit Karen in the group home where she had lived, but things were getting back to normal, and Eric and Karen were able to get together. going to a park with a lake where they can take a Surrey bike ride and have a picnic. And that was a bit of a return to normal for them, but it was also a moment that came with a unexpected meaning because their mother had just died. Eric was clearly in mourning and Karen made it clear that she was too. She was able to pronounce the word mum twice and shed a tear. And for Eric, I think that it’s a memory he really cares about now, a special time with his sister and something he will always cherish. “

Watch “LA Times Today” at 7 and 10 p.m. Monday through Friday on Spectrum News 1 and the Spectrum News app.

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