Woman writes touchingly honest obit for sister to help those battling with depression

Posted by
Sarah Biddlecombe

A woman has written a touchingly honest obituary for her sister in the hope of helping others who are suffering from depression.

Eleni Pinnow, from Wisconsin, penned the obituary for her younger sister Aletha, who committed suicide last month aged 31 after battling with the disease for years.

The obituary, published in the Duluth News Tribune, described how Aletha was "her family's whole entire world" but "a battle with depression made her innate glow invisible to her and she could not see how desperately loved and valued she was".

Now, Eleni Pinnow has told The Washington Post how she hopes the emotional tribute will encourage others with depression to "choose to live".


Describing the moment that police confirmed her sister was dead, she said, "What followed that stark statement was a sudden moment of lucidity in which only one thing mattered: the truth. I had to be honest. I had to tell the truth."

The truth, Pinnow said, is that depression lies. 

"Depression lied to my sister, told her that she was worthless. A burden. Unlovable. Undeserving of life," Pinnow said. 

"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 was so wrong."

The statistics relating to depression estimate it affects 350 million people worldwide, with less than half that number receiving treatment. One million people take their own lives due to depression every year, and here in the UK we have one of the highest self-harming rates in Europe.

Eleni Pinnow and her sister Aletha

Eleni Pinnow and her sister Aletha (image courtesy of Eleni Pinnow's Facebook)

Now, Pinnow hopes that sharing her sister's tragic story will "urge others to distrust the voice of depression".

"Here is the truth: You have value," she writes. "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."



In remembrance of her sister, Eleni Pinnow has started a scholarship fund at Wisconsin University, where she is currently an associate professor. You can find out more information and donate here.

If you, or anyone you know, is struggling with depression you can find more information at