A woman’s shocking, brutally honest obituary went viral. Eleni Pinnow, the sister of the late Aletha Pinnow, penned an obituary following her sister’s tragic suicide. In the obituary, Eleni described Aletha’s interests and hobbies, her personality and her “caring, genuine, vivacious, hilarious, and sparkly” nature.
The obituary, which appeared in the Duluth News Tribune, read:
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.
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.
In a piece for the Washington Post that Eleni wrote after the obituary went viral, she detailed the events that lead up to her sister’s suicide.
“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,” a note on the front door of her home read.
“I stood on the porch shivering from cold and sheer terror. I didn’t just feel alone. I felt like I was in a vacuum in the middle of space with everything I knew being pulled away from me. The universe was suddenly a very vast place and I was very, very, very alone.”
Eleni was subsequently told by an officer that her sister had killed herself.
“After years of the lies and the torment, my sister believed that depression told her the truth. In the notes she left for my parents and me, Aletha wrote, ‘Don’t feel sad, I’m not worth it,'” she revealed in the piece. “She was so wrong. Depression lies. I have to tell the truth.”
The woman went on to call her sister “amazing,” adding that she felt the two had a “relationship of closeness” that she’ll never have again.
Eleni wrote, before calling on others to be aware of the dangers of depression:
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.
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. We must tell the truth.