Sisters Go Viral for Their Confessions to Late Mom: 'I Like to Think She's Really Proud of Us'

"I really wanted to use it as an outlet and maybe connect with others who had lost people," Sara Wollner tells PEOPLE

<p>Courtesy Brent Cardy</p> From left: Megan Dixon, Sara Wollner, Katie Riggins and Karen Riggins.

Courtesy Brent Cardy

From left: Megan Dixon, Sara Wollner, Katie Riggins and Karen Riggins.

Three sisters in New York are embodying the old adage that laughter is the best medicine, using viral TikToks to apologize for and confess things to their late mother.

After mom Karen died of pancreatic cancer in July 2022, Sara Wollner, 31, "felt isolated," having already lost her dad as a child.

"I was only 30 and I had lost both my parents," Wollner tells PEOPLE. "So I started posting on TikTok — I always say selfishly — because I really wanted to use it as an outlet and maybe connect with others who had lost people in their lives."

The idea for the confessions to their mom came to Wollner in part from inspiration from other TikToks she had seen, she says.

One night in November, she texted her sister, Katie Riggins, 33, who was already headed over that night and floated the "confessions to mom" idea.

"We literally did one take, not even lying," Wollner says. "That was all genuine humor and genuine confessions."

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The now-viral video begins with Wollner.

"So, our mom died a little over a year ago and these are some of the things that we'd like to confess to her that have happened since she died," she says in the clip. "No. 1, we didn't know that we had to file your taxes."

She and her sister then giggle as their admissions continue.

"I didn't know I needed to get my own insurance policy," Riggins says while wheezing with laughter as Wollner jumps in to add, "She drove an unregistered car."

The moment has more than 25 million views and 43,000-plus comments.

<p>Lauren McGarry Photography</p> From left: Sara Wollner and Karen Riggins.

Lauren McGarry Photography

From left: Sara Wollner and Karen Riggins.

"Once that one went so viral, we were like, we have so much more content because of who we are as people and just the relationship we had with her," Wollner says.

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When the sisters lost their dad "unexpectedly" from a heart attack in 1999, Wollner says their mom, as a single parent, empowered their family and would always say, "'Us girls, we got to get through it. Us girls can do it.' "

Up until their mom died, Wollner — now a mom herself — says the family maintained a "humorous" and "supportive relationship with one another."

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"That's why we share the videos we do to this day, because that was truly the relationship we had with her up until the very end," she says. "[My mom] was cracking jokes, literally, from hospice care. So yeah, we just have always laughed through hardship."

What started as a "Konfessions to Kare" series then added a string of apology videos to their late mom. They have now even opened themselves up to questions about "Kare," featuring their oldest sister, Megan.

And the love that the sisters have received has been overwhelming.

"My DMs are a pretty wholesome place to be. A lot of people reach out and share, 'I've also lost a parent or I've lost a sibling,' " Wollner says.

Even people who don't have a relationship with their parents have chimed in.

<p>Courtesy Brent Cardy</p> From left: Karen Riggins, Megan Dixon, Katie Riggins and Sara Wollner.

Courtesy Brent Cardy

From left: Karen Riggins, Megan Dixon, Katie Riggins and Sara Wollner.

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Reflecting on how their videos have resonated, Riggins notes that grief is a universal experience.

"Bad things happen to everybody and life is going to throw you curveballs and issues — and you can't change when bad things happen to you. But how you look at it and how you kind of move on from it is the only thing really in your control," she says. "And I think, from [a] very young [age], my mom kind of was like, after our dad died, 'We can't go back. We can't change anything, but what can we do moving forward?' "

While Karen wasn't a social media user herself, Wollner says their mom would be "laughing hysterically" at the reaction her girls have received for spotlighting her.

"I like to think she's really proud of us," Wollner says, "because I know we're making a difference and we're connecting with people who have faced loss."

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