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advice on personal letters after bereavement

(10 Posts)
weeonion Fri 03-Jun-11 15:16:48

Apologies for 2nd posting - no subject matter on first!

my MIL died very suddenly and unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago. she was living with her dh of that time.

She and her dh certainly had tense relationships with her 4 adult kids but she spent one day a week with my dd and dp. DD really really loved her and dp had become alot closer to her through these weekly times.

Her other kids dont live close by so dp and i organised and sorted the funeral etc. i was asked by dp to tidy her house, clean and sort it and also go through her papers to sort out wills, insurances etc.

In that initial process I found letters written, in envelopes but not stamped/ addressed to her kids in amongst a pile of magazines. It was really awful finding them and because of what she was saying - i have hidden them. I dont know if any happiness, comfort or closure will come from them ever reading what she had written, which was heartbreaking in how she saw herself, her life her relationships and her kids. she didnt pull any punches in how she felt they had been treating her and how she felt so terribly judged and let down by them (alot of which i agree with btw)

I know many will think i should not have read them. I wish I hadnt but i have. i am finding it hard to come to terms with knowing this stuff when they dont. It has not made my own grieving any easier and i havent spoken to anyone on what i read or how i am feeling about it.

I have the letters hidden away. do you think i should burn them or give them to her children?

BooBooGlass Fri 03-Jun-11 15:22:00

It's entirely possible she wrote them with no intention of them ever being read iyswim? I often write a letter and then srcew it up and throw it away if something is particuarly bothering me. I wouldn't thrown the out just yet. Hang onto them for a while, hide them in a place they won't be found. But I would agree that if no good iwll come of them, then don't let on that you've found them or read them. Just leave them be as the private thoughts of a now deceased woman. If she'd wanted them to be read presumably she'd have actually posted them, not hidden them away with a bunch of magazines. And tbh, she too may have written in a fit of anger just to get it all off her chest. Just because she wrote it doesn't necessarily mean she meant it. SOrry for your loss, I have to go and sort through some of my grandad's things next week ad I'm dreading it. Makes it all much more real.

OddBoots Fri 03-Jun-11 15:25:51

If she wanted them to be seen she would have put them with her will or asked someone to give them out after her death (or sent them while she was still alive). You can't unsee what you have seen but I would shred them and try to forget them.

Northernlurker Fri 03-Jun-11 15:29:52

Destroy them. You don't know what she intended to do with them. It could be she would have posted them the next day, it could be she would never have done so. Destroy them and try to let it go. That's one aspect of her life not every aspect. She isn't here now so what's wrong can never be put totally right. These letters could do a huge amount of damage to people you care about. Destroy them.

Sorry for your loss btw.

loveulotslikejellytots Fri 03-Jun-11 16:14:48

I would say that if they were meant to be seen, she would have given them or posted them. You could say maybe she was going to post them, but she didn't. I believe everything happens for a reason, like you said, no closure or comfort is going to come from them. If they were meant to get to the recipient your MIL would have made sure that they did.

weeonion Fri 03-Jun-11 22:47:09

thanks for your responses. You're right and I know that they should never see them as they are no longer in a position to make the changes she really wanted and needed. I suppose guilt is usually one part of grieving but no-one needs any unnecessary additions. I do feel that i am carrying some of this as I read them and as oddboots says - i cant unsee them. I feel incredibly guilty that if only we had all done a little more then she would have died feeling better about herself. There's all the 'personal papers' to do - not something i look forward to.

BooBooglass - I hope you are ok with sorting your granddad's things.

Geordieminx Sat 04-Jun-11 19:59:31

Sorry for your loss Mrs.

Thinking of the 3 of you. X

weeonion Wed 08-Jun-11 12:14:46

ta GMM. aint been a good time. C has taken it really hard understandably which breaks my heart. We'll be ok and i guess all the old cliches are true in this instance!

My mum died in August and she wrote letters to us all and dad found them in her underwear drawer a few weeks later. I was so glad to have that last letter from her (it makes me cry every time I read it) but it was a letter of love and tenderness and I will always cherish it..........I think had it been bitter and full of regrets and recriminations I wouldnt want to know or read it. Nothing will be gained by the letters being read now so you are doing the right thing.

Hugs to you xx

Suncottage Wed 08-Jun-11 12:32:42

My brother showed me a letter that my mum had written to me years and years before but hadn't sent. It was when I was much younger and more interested in my friends than seeing my parents. She wrote how hurt she and Dad were about it etc etc etc

All it did was hurt me dreadfully - there was no point to it because I was a very different person back then. He should have destroyed it but he is not a terribly nice person so for him it was a weapon and he utilised it.

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