People on Reddit were asked: "What did you find out about your deceased friend or relative while going through their stuff?" These are some of the best answers.
_Find the original source thread at the end of the article. _
My mom died of cancer a couple years ago. While I was going through her office I did some math and figured that she spent just shy of $200,000 on shamans, miracle cures and weird investments in South America during the last two years of her life.
I Guess It’s Fine, If No One Knows
While cleaning out my grandpa’s house after his death, we found his father’s papers from when he immigrated to the United States. Turns out my family has been spelling our last name wrong for almost 100 years now.
It Was All In The History
Well I looked at my mom’s google history after she committed suicide.
She was plotting it the entire week, she googled all different types of ways of how to do it, she also googled ways of getting out of depression and suicidal thoughts.
I hesitated before looking, I knew what I was going to find. I don’t know if I feel better that she thought it through and it wasn’t spontaneous or if I feel better that she didn’t want to feel like that but couldn’t help it. Either way I know that the struggle was real, she really felt like it was her only option.
It’s sad to think that sometimes the relief of death outweighs the pain of life. I miss you Mom, Rest In Peace.
‘My Mom Was Having An Affair’
After my mom passed, my dad discovered she had been carrying on an affair for years while going through her email account. It’s messed him up pretty bad and now he’s obsessed with the idea of getting revenge on the guy.
I wish I had never found out because it’s almost ruined the image of my mom in my head.
How My Dad Really Felt
I was adopted by my dad. He had three daughters who were in their late teens and early twenties when he adopted me (I was two). When he died last year, I helped his wife go through his things. While the two of us did this, his three daughters were making a list of the most expensive stuff he had and trying to come up with reasons they should have it. They’d always been like that, very into money and expensive stuff, and constantly borrowing money from our dad.
Which probably explains why, when we opened Daddy’s closet, it was filled with unopened, unused gifts from the three daughters. Nearly all of them still had price tags on them (left on to show him how much they spent on his gift). Just stacks and stacks of dust-covered things he never bothered to even open the boxes to look at. Also a lot of pictures of them they’d given him inexpensive frames, all piled in the corner.
Then I opened the top drawer of his dresser. It was filled to the brim with things I had given him or made over the years. Everything was worn, from his handling or using them constantly.
Pay It Forward
My grandfather apparently put 4 or 5 kids through college in the 70s and 80s. He came from a really poor family and only went to college because he got an Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) scholarship, so he spent a fair amount of money putting other kids from really poor families through college when he was older.
Fingerprints all over the picture of myself & him I had glued to a piece of wood and burned “Love you, Daddy” all over the edge when I was 10. A wallet I had made when my stepdad was into leatherworking, the seams busted and the leather scuffed from so much use. What seemed like every note, letter, and card I’d ever given him for every occasion known to man, all grimy and grease-stained from his opening and reading multiple times. Every single school picture of me, all in a neat stack in the front corner. Plus pictures of me in frames around here and there on display.
So…after over 40 years of his daughters, making me feel like crap for being adopted, constantly hearing how I wasn’t his “real” daughter like them…I found out after he died just how much he really loved and appreciated me.
‘That Must Of Hurt’
One of my grandfathers never would talk about WWII. When I was a kid, I’d pester him about it…I even tried to interview him for a school project, but he refused. My mom didn’t know either, and my grandmother would always just change the subject. As I got older, I figured he must’ve just seen some serious stuff and didn’t want to talk about it. So I stopped asking.
He passed about 20 years ago, leaving me clueless. My grandmother passed about 3 years ago. And while we were cleaning up their house, I finally found out why. He wasn’t allowed to serve, and he was embarrassed. When I saw the letters, all sorts of things came back to me, the keenest being the time Patton came on one Saturday afternoon…he walked out in the middle of the scene of Patton’s speech to the 3rd army. We didn’t see him the rest of the day. It’s the one about, “making that other man die for his country” and includes the line:
Thirty years from now when you’re sitting by your fireside with your grandson on your knee and he asks, ‘What did you do in the great World War Two?’ You won’t have to cough and say, ‘Well, your granddaddy shovelled in Louisiana.’ No sir, you can look him straight in the eye and say ‘Son, your granddaddy rode with the great Third Army and a son-of-a-goddamned-* named George Patton!’
I had been sitting next to him on the couch. It was a little more than 30 years later, but damn that must have hurt.
He wasn’t allowed to go because the War Department said that his job was too vital back home. He tried to join up many times, and he apparently fought to get to go. There’s letter after letter from the War Department explaining how, because of his role in the infrastructure, they couldn’t risk sending him. They needed his expertise here. I still don’t know what it was he did that was so vital, but it required him traveling all over the country…there are boxes of letters to my grandmother, postmarked from all over the place. It probably had to do with communication, he worked for Bell.
It turns out my grandfather’s cane that he brought everywhere with him was actually a sword.
My grandpa was hardcore.
‘I Don’t Really Blame Him’
When my brother died, my mom learned that he never unpacked most of the “care packages” she used to send him. I don’t really blame my brother; our mom tends to send random stuff that is completely unnecessary and I guess her love language is “Dollar Store Junk.”
But it did hurt her feelings and I wish someone else had gotten to his apartment before her and quietly gotten rid of them.
‘I Never Slummed A Day In My Life’
My wife left incredibly loving statements about me in her diary. I still haven’t been able to gut through reading the whole thing, but I did flip to the back and found where she wrote, “I knew you’d look back here. Thank you for slumming it with me all these years.”
For the record, I’ve never “slummed” a day in my life.
For the record: I’m German, otherwise, this story doesn’t make much sense.
It wasn’t anything shocking, but rather something we found cool when my grandmother died. We found what is called an “Ariernachweis” (basically “certificate of Aryan descent”). It might sound bad, but is actually a very cool piece of paper, if you are interested in your families’ history.
My grandmother and grandfather needed it, for some reason (though we aren’t sure exactly why). It was a family tree, which dated back as far as ~1790. Also it featured (for some of my ancestors) their physical features (for my great grandfather for example “tall, blond, strong”). It was really like you could connect to your ancestors in a way.
‘They Were Just So Him’
I discovered that my dad wrote sardonic and witty asides in the margins of many if his books, which were great to read as they were just so him.
Dad’s Sex Toys
My dad died a few years ago just before Christmas. It was the first death in our family in a long time and it came out of nowhere so everyone was shocked. He still had packages coming in the mail for Christmas so I would grab them because I wanted to wrap them up for the people and give them as a last gift from him.
I started opening the packages in my room and just dumping them on my bed. First one was a guitar wall mount, the second one was some miscellaneous electronic components and the last one dumped out in slow motion. It was a penis ring, vibrator, and some massage oils. I was mortified and just threw them back in the package.
I still have the box tucked on top of my closet because I have no idea what to do with it. I just can’t give it to my mom because it’d be awkward and I can’t use it myself because it’d be awkward so it just sits in my closet and every once in awhile I come across it and laugh.
When my grandfather passed away, over ten years ago now, we had to clean out his basement.
He was a soldier in WWII and we knew we would find some army stuff in boxes. What we didn’t expect to find was a box of photos from the liberation of Dachau concentration camp. He had never spoken of this to anyone, not even my grandmother. He had told us stories of being in Vienna and other places after the war, but never much about during hostilities.
It’s one thing to see pictures in history books or on Wikipedia, but to see pictures someone you know took in person is another thing all together.
My grandma passed away 2 months ago. I went through her notebook and found something she wrote about how my father almost killed my mom.
I was there the whole time. See, I always have these weird flashbacks of that moment. I thought it was a part of my imagination cause everyone in my family said so. Turned out it was not.
When we moved my great-grandfather to assisted living, we found tons of condoms on his nightstand.
My grandmother was horrified, but my grandfather and I were impressed.
‘The Church Was His Life’
My dad died in March. He was a devout Christian (presumably still is if everything worked out for him). Anyway…
We rarely saw each other and were not close for reasons that aren’t relevant to this post. I wasn’t expecting money or a car or anything like that. He didn’t have those things. I just thought there might be a box of random things to go through, some pictures, something like that. My step-mom showed me what he had. A 50 year old Timex watch and his clothes. That’s it.
I gave the watch to my sister as she is a bit more sentimental like that than I am. I am a tall person and my dad was short, so the clothes were donated to the Goodwill which is where he bought them in the first place. It was beautiful in a way. Apparently, he just gave his life to his beliefs and did a lot for the church.
My Grandpa secretly kept several pictures from when he and my grandma were dating.
She was embarrassed to see them so he had hidden them away.
‘The Tip Of The Iceberg’
My boyfriend died on November 10th. He collapsed in the bathroom. My hands are still scabbed and scraped from trying in vain to reach underneath the door to shake him awake. He was my world, my love, my life. This wasn’t fair…we had just begun our life together! We did nothing wrong! I felt like the world had punished me for being too happy.
On November 13th, I went back to the apartment with my father to clean out his belongings and try to move on with the grieving process. My dad wanted the vest he had given him. I remembered he had worn on the night before and retrieved it. My dad put it on, reached into the pockets and pulled out two syringes and what I learned was a packet of brown tar heroin.
I had no idea. My family had known him a year and a half. We had no idea. Since then we’ve been discovering his whole life was a lie, and this was just the tip of the iceberg.
‘I Miss Him’
I had a friend disappear 2 years ago and his body was found several states away about 4 months later. After he had gone missing, his parents got into his apartment and he’d packed up most of his stuff into boxes giving them to different people. His parents each got one, brother, sister, a few friends and I got a small box. He included a note to please honor his request to not open the boxes and give them to the people they were for. They held the boxes until his body was found.
His parents dropped my box at my house after the funeral and we talked for a bit. He’d had some mental illnesses and they were glad he felt he was finally at peace even though it ended this way. Going through the box, he gave me some Play Station One games we’d played together, a small lego set of a car I’d given him for Christmas when we were 13 or 14. And the last thing in the box was a notebook.
I opened it and it was a bunch of short stories he’d written. I paged through it and the stories started getting violent and scary. The last few pages were drawings of dismembered people and animals. It looked very much like Patrick Bateman’s planner at the end of American Psycho.
He’d always been a little off and taken medicine for it as long as I’d known him. We would talk 2-3 times a month, but I didn’t know it had gotten as bad as it did for him. I miss him and am sad he’s gone, but I’m sadder he thought this was the only thing he could do.
‘Rest Easy, Grandpa’
My grandfather died in July in a car crash. In his last will, he wanted me to move into his apartment. I moved in late August and I’ve been cleaning up, throwing stuff away and going through his belongings. The entire apartment was adorned with old stuff from my sister and I and old things of his sons and wife. Old toys, presents, letters, photos etc. My grandfather was always a tinkerer and repaired an old typewriter and had written a sort of diary or journal, sometimes by hand.
My grandmother divorced him a few years ago and he never got over it. He wrote her love letters saying how sorry he is and that she was the best that ever happened to him et cetera. In his journal, he wrote how alone he felt after she moved out. How sad he is that his son No.2 (my father) never visits him.
His journal got progressively darker and sadder. In the end, he was most likely depressed and the last few pages he wrote that sometimes he felt his mind slipping away and that he doesn’t understand why or how he forgets things sometimes. It sounded really desperate.
There were also things about me and my sister. He often said how proud he was that I became an electrician like him and how pretty my sister grew up to be. In one paragraph he writes about how I once visited him and how he couldn’t recognize my voice at first and got my age wrong by 3 years. He asked himself how that he let that happen.
It was absolutely heartbreaking to see in what condition my grandfather was. I never knew just how proud he was about what I do. I hope the old man has now found his peace. I will try my best to make him proud. But I’m also ashamed that I didn’t visit him that often and that I didn’t see the signs. The apartment was adorned with all that “junk” because he just wanted to be surrounded by memories of times when he wasn’t alone. I miss him.
Note: Comments have been edited for clarity.