On Friday, a Minnesota family laid to rest not one but three of its members after a couple and their oldest daughter died within days of each other. Sandy Schulte, 57, had died a week prior after a long illness. Her mother Sharon Schulte, 76, died less than 24 hours later; father Tom Schulte, 77, died Tuesday, both of them from lung and brain cancer complications. Their surviving daughter and three sons held a joint funeral for them, reports the St. Cloud Times, and the daughter says that her parents' "wish came true. They wanted to walk Sandy," who had Down syndrome, "to heaven’s gate. That’s what they did."
"It was like, after Sandy died, it was OK for those two to let go," she continues. "They were connected at the soul." Tom and Sharon had kept Sandy, who "functioned at the level of a 4-year-old," her sister says, at home with them as long as they could. The family's joint obituary describes Sandy as "a kid that never had to grow up" and who was well described by her middle name, Joy. But her health had been deteriorating for a few years. Then, a year ago, Sharon got sick, and Tom followed in November, and all three were moved into a care center. "It’s mixed emotions for the rest of us," their daughter says. "We tried to rally around them, but it was so difficult at the end. It was just too much. We lost half our family in four days' time." (Click to read about two more couples who died within days of each other.)