My sister was nine years older than I and suffered from schizophrenia. I’m 78, so she became sick in the 1950s when the disease was not understood. She died in 2010. A cousin recently sent me a picture of her when she was a young child and I was so surprised to see this picture. She was truly such a beautiful child! Who would have known, as she became sick at about 18 years. I have been thinking of sending this photo of her to be placed in our local newspaper as a remembrance to her this June, as she died in June, and saying: “In remembrance of a beautiful mind. From your sister, Barbara.” My husband thinks this is nonsense and I should just get a flower to place on her gravesite. On one hand, I think he is right, but, on the other hand, I want to show this beautiful person to some people that were quite critical of her. I never defended her actions when she was alive, as she was “difficult” because of her illness. Should I just let this go? — Remembering My Sister
Sure, post a photo in the newspaper, but not because you want to prove to her critics how beautiful your sister once was. Do it because, beautiful or not, schizophrenic or not, her life was as meaningful and important as anyone else’s and she deserves to be remembered and honored. If placing a photo in the newspaper is a way for you to honor her that feels impactful, do that. But understand that it shouldn’t take being pretty to illustrate one’s humanity or to prove how deserving one is of love and understanding. Even if your sister never had a pretty day in her life, her memory still deserves the honor of acknowledgement and compassion. Perhaps the best way you could remember your sister is by making a donation in her name to a foundation or organization that serves the mentally ill.