A letter to My (Dead) Sister About her Little Boy

Kellyn Shoecraft
4 min readFeb 2, 2021

In the first few years of my grief, writing was an enormously helpful outlet. But, in the past year, I’ve lost (temporarily?) the urge to write. Maybe because of the pandemic, maybe because I fell out of the habit. Or maybe it’s because my grief doesn’t hurt in the same knife-constantly-piercing-my-heart kind of way.

I found this letter I wrote to my sister in July, 2019 — just before the 2 year anniversary of her death. Since I’ve lost my drive to write anything new, I thought I’d share something a little old. I have no memory of writing this, but I’m glad I did.

Two firefighting cousins in matching PJs. Photo courtesy of the author.

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Dear Alison,

I know that all you would want to know is about Sam.

Your beautiful boy is ok. You would recognize his intelligence — he is still so smart. His baby curls have disappeared, but his hair is still ‘swamp’ colored (the term you used to describe my hair, and then when Sam was born with the same color you decided to save face and keep the stupid adjective).

He is still a poor napper, pretty much dropped them altogether, and it’s hard to get him to sleep at night. He still loves to put his hands down shirts and rub arms when he wants to be comforted.

You wouldn’t be surprised to know that he is still clingy, now with his dad instead of you. But I don’t blame him because he went to bed and you were there and he woke up and you were gone. He’s still big. So tall for his age that people often mistake him for a five-year-old. Though they’re just 51 weeks apart, Corinne is wearing his clothes from two years ago and they’re still too big. But I’m happy she’s wearing them because you picked them out.

Sam still loves to move, and now he zooms on scooters and bikes. You told me you wanted him to get a balance bike for his 2nd birthday and we were sure he got one. He zips around so quickly and stops on a dime. Sometimes he likes to crash into the walls for fun.

You would be happy to know that he is loving and so, so loved. He’s independent when he plays. He loves to wear costumes, particularly a dinosaur cape that comes down over his eyes.

He was really into Thomas and then Minions and then Paw Patrol. Now he likes cars and trucks and this weird lamp…



Kellyn Shoecraft

Navigating sibling & parent loss and trying to change the way people support each other in grief. Founder at www.hereforyou.co