Mourning My Sister Through Writing

I’ve stated many times that the words I choose matter. I believe that I write because my spirit craves to do so. Sometimes the words flow effortlessly and other times it’s not just the pen that runs dry. I know firsthand that writing can work as a healthy outlet during times of emotional or spiritual crisis. Such was the case after my sister’s sudden death.

In the weeks since my older sister in our Little Women-esque family passed away, I wrote sporadically having little interest in my blog, novels, play, or TV pilot drafts. I sought the comfort of my journal instead, the flow of pen to paper acting as a security blanket.

When our family met with the funeral director hours after my sister’s passing, my tasks became clear: I am the writer in the group, so I will write her obituary. I then volunteered to give/write the eulogy, a suggestion the rest of the family agreed to immediately. I never imagined that I would be tasked with such important responsibilities for at least another few decades. Yet I felt compelled, called even, to write.

I read through other obituaries in the paper to get a sense of what to include in Jen’s. There’s a formula, or template, that I followed and then modified the words and phrases to create a tone that reflected Jennifer’s interests. I sought family member feedback for final approval and sent it for publication.

In comparison, writing the eulogy was one of the most challenging and important pieces I knew I’d ever pen. I sat at the computer and made a list of terms that epitomized Jen: travel, history, and animals. But having never written a eulogy or spoke at a memorial service before, I didn’t know what was expected. Do I write an elongated obit, listing Jen’s favorite travel sites, TV shows, and charitable causes? Do I write it as though I’m addressing her directly? Do I keep the content general or specific to my memories? I pondered it all until the emotion overwhelmed me. I sobbed at the dining room table as my mother, brother-in-law, and sister comforted me.  “My big sister,” I wailed. “She’s gone.” I felt my heart break into shards of memories. It had been a full week, and the reality finally hit.

After the tears ceased and my body stopped shaking, I returned to my journal. The words flowed now like a gentle river, splashing against the banks with bursts of inspiration. Once the river of inspiration flowed into its main source I knew I’d created a fitting tribute to my big sister.

River image

I believe that we are more than our achievements or our perceived flaws. We are a smorgasbord of moments blended together to keep us in a perpetual state of spiritual movement. Jen’s spirit parted ways with her body, and is now having adventures in places unknown. I know that I must keep moving forward, and writing guides my way.


Published by Kelly Deeny

I am a writer, singer, jewelry designer, and theatre enthusiast. I use various forms of artistic expression for personal reflection, community discussion and creative inspiration. My premiere novel encapsulates all of the above. Follow along on my journey towards an artistic career!

4 thoughts on “Mourning My Sister Through Writing

  1. Much love to you Kelly. It is a little rote to pen an obituary, but a eulogy is quite another matter. Lots of investment and energy. I am sure you did your family proud.

  2. Graceful and thoughtful. As the person entrusted with the choice of music for a memorial service for my mother, the author of the eulogy for my father-in-law, and as a contributor of some testimony at the funeral of my stepfather and at the celebration of life for his eldest son, I have faced similar challenges. Bless you!

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