Woman writes moving obituary after sister’s death to help others

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DULUTH, Minn. – When a loved one dies, it can difficult to find the right words to describe their impact on this world.

Following her sister’s death in February, Eleni Pinnow says she knew she needed to tell the truth.

In February, Pinnow went to her sister’s home, only to find a note taped to the door.

“Eleni, if you’re the first one here don’t go in the basement. Just call 911. I don’t want you to see me like this. I love you! Love, Aletha,” Pinnow recalls.

After learning that her sister had committed suicide, it was up to Eleni to write her obituary.

She says instead of covering up what caused Aletha’s death, she says she knew she had to tell the truth.

“Aletha Meyer Pinnow, 31, of Duluth, formerly of Oswego and Chicago, Ill., died from depression and suicide on Feb. 20, 2016,” the obituary begins.

“She loved animals, theater, Halloween, Star Wars, cartoons, preparing food for loved ones, and cuddling with aforementioned animals. She did not love France (they know why) and William Shatner (who also presumably knew why). Aletha was fond of making her mom laugh until she literally cried and helping her dad do anything and everything. It is impossible to sum up a woman so caring, genuine, vivacious, hilarious, and sparkly. Those qualities were so obvious to everyone around her. Aletha was her family’s whole entire world. She enriched the lives of countless colleagues and students. Unfortunately, a battle with depression made her innate glow invisible to her and she could not see how desperately loved and valued she was,” Eleni wrote.

“She was a special education teacher for over a decade and she was, as she was happy to tell you, awesome at it. She saw the potential and value of every single one of her students and she loved them with a ferocity that would make a rabid mother bear quiver. If the family were to have a big pie in the sky dream, we would ask for a community-wide discussion about mental health and to pull the suffocating demon of depression and suicide into the bright light of day. Please help us break the destructive silence and stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide.”

Pinnow called on the community to start paying closer attention to mental illnesses, hoping that maybe one life could be saved.

“My sister’s depression fed on her desire to keep it secret and hidden from everyone. I could not save my sister. I could not reach my sister through her depression. Aletha slipped from my grasp and I cannot bring her back. I can only urge others to distrust the voice of depression. I can plead for people to seek help and treatment. I can talk about depression and invite others to the conversation. I can tell everyone that will listen that depression lies. I can tell the truth. The lies of depression can exist only in isolation. Brought out into the open, lies are revealed for what they are. Here is the truth: You have value. You have worth. You are loved. Trust the voices of those who love you. Trust the enormous chorus of voices that say only one thing: You matter. Depression lies,” she wrote in an article for the Washington Post.

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