Skeletons In The Closet: Who Will Find Yours After Your Death?
I had a medical emergency once that required me to be hospitalized for 4 days. During that time several family members converged on my home in an attempt to help take care of my children and my household. This sounds like a beautiful thing at first. And it was. It is. It helped me to know that my own mother was caring for my children and that my sister was there to help out, along with several other trusted loved ones. But my heart sank when I found out that a couple of "shady" people had been inside my house. You know, those family members that should never be left alone because they like to snoop and scoop. I worried about what these people were saying and doing around my children. I was stressed to the max wondering if my jewelry, diary and clothes were being carried away in someone's purse or pocket. Boy I couldn't wait to get home! Eventually I did get home and I didn't notice anything missing or out of place. And my children were fine.
In the Event of My Demise: Taking Precautions
After I settled back into my abode I started thinking. What do I not want people to find when they go through my things after I die? Have you ever thought about this? When you pass away or cannot fend for yourself due to illness or injury, somebody will be going through your belongings. Personal, private stuff. We all have secrets. Some are good, some are bad, some are horrible. Just take a moment to think about what you have hidden under your mattress, in your closet, in your email account, under your dresser, etc. Do you have a diary with deep, heartfelt expressions and secrets in it? What would happen to your family if the pages of your diary became public? Does it have the potential to destroy lives and marriages and relationships? Of course, you will be dead and gone. So why worry about what happens after you leave this earth, right? Well depending on what your loved ones find you may be remembered as a lying bastard instead of a loving mother and wife. Instead of being a loving nephew you could suddenly become a porn-addicted pervert. Or maybe it will be your dear old aunt who discovers something rather personal in your nightstand drawer. (Ahem!) Sure, your family will still love you but that last memory of you is what tends to stick in people's minds.
On the flip side, why should anyone live life with the fear of being exposed as a flawed human being. I mean, who doesn't have skeletons in their closet? I think people should keep secrets to some degree. It's the damaging secrets that worry me. What if your wife died and you later discovered that she lied to you about the paternity of one of your children? You don't have the opportunity to ask her anything or to find out what happened. What a horrible way to find out. What if a daughter finds out that her mother intentionally kept her father from her? I think of the legacy I leave to my children and how my leftover secrets will affect them. I don't want to save up a potential devastation for them.
As for me, I had a couple of items that I would have died twice if anybody ever found them. I got rid of them. As for my journals, I added a warning to the front cover of each one: "To the person who discovers this journal after my death. The pages and everything on them are highly personal. I cannot stop you from reading them but I would rather you didn't. My dying request is that you burn this journal and help me to protect the contents of my heart. Thank you". Awww. Don't you love how I tried to tug at the heartstrings there? I don't expect it to work but it's worth a shot.
Checklist: Potential Bombs
I compiled a list of things that you may want to reconsider keeping in your home in the event that you are incapacitated, or dead.
- Diaries or Journals
- Cell phone with pictures and text conversations or emails
- Secret email accounts
- Username and password log book
- Letters from a secret lover
- Stolen property
- Drugs and drug paraphernalia
- Porn magazines/movies
- Vibrators and other sex toys
- Naughty pictures of you
Ask yourself why you're holding on to a particular item and make a decision about what to do with it.
My suggestion is that you make a pact with a very trusted friend or loved one. Tell them that in the event you should pass away or need to be hospitalized you need them to discretely dispose of or relocate certain personal items. If you aren't comfortable telling them where these secret items are just yet, draw up some written directions for them to follow with the locations of any hot items. Hide this list somewhere in your home and let them know where it is. Make it a place that is easy for them to remember. Places like the third drawer on the left side will be easily forgotten. In an envelope stuck inside our high school yearbook is an easy one to recall. You might even make it a point to buy a book or movie that you both love and place the list inside it.
I hope you take the time to think this through. It WILL happen to you, but hopefully no time soon :)