Death unfortunately comes for us all. Whatever is left behind, there's always a story that can come from the passing of human life. Some of these stories can be depressing, heartwarming, or terrifying. These stories are from the families who come to find out shocking things about their loved ones in the wake of death. Content has been edited for clarity.
"I had a good family friend/coworker die a few months ago (he passed away from lung cancer). He was a regular blue-collar pack of smokes and a six-pack a day kind of guy. He loved fishing. He went on fishing trips dozens of times a year but was always insistent that his wife and son not go with him, although he allowed them to come a time or two before.
Flash forward to the day of the funeral - grieving wife and son as well as many friends and other family. But then who shows up? None other than an ex-mistress that nobody knew about! After having her removed from the premises, no more than 10 minutes later ANOTHER mistress AND TWO FREAKING KIDS that were his show up.
Come to find out, many of his fishing trips (as well as week-long 'work' trips before he worked with me) were actually spent with his secret second family or the flavor of the week mistress."
"I found a letter my dad had written to the court appointed psychologist during my parents divorce from ten years ago.
Two most shocking things I found was that I was tested for HIV when I was five because I was having facial surgery and they tested my parents blood to make sure it was okay in case I needed blood. My mom tested positive for HIV. She still hasn't told my brother and I.
Also my dad said that when the found his brother's body when he had a heart attack, they couldn't actually take the body because it had decomposed too much. He had a heart attack and no one found him for a week or so. He mentioned that he was the only person who knew the coffin was empty during the funeral. I remember asking him why it wasn't open casket."
"This didn't happen to me, but it happened to my father several years back.
He had an employee whose grandpa had passed away, so she asked him to help with cleaning out her grandpa's house for family heirlooms and whatnot. He felt like being helpful, so he agreed to do so. They were cleaning out the attic when my father found an old looking trunk tucked away in a corner. He opened it and was quite shocked to find a freaking KKK outfit. My father's employee was absolutely horrified, as she had always known her grandfather as a very kind and loving man.
I forgot what they did with the outfit (probably threw it away), but her view of her grandfather was permanently changed from that day on."
"I found something out about my gran at her funeral last week. My dad read the eulogy and described how she had been waiting at a bus stop in Winchester during World War 2 when she saw a German V-1 rocket approaching. The engine cut out and it began its deadly descent towards her. There was no place to take shelter, so everyone dropped to the ground. The bomb went off a few feet from the bus stop.
When my Gran stood up she saw nothing, but rubble and carnage. She was the only survivor, coming through with a few cuts and two broken ribs. She dusted herself off and went to work."
"It wasn't until after my grandfather died that we found out, my father and his brothers were setting my grandfather's affairs in orders. This involved visiting various offices he had in different premises. Over the years, my grandfather and his sons had built up quite a diverse family business centered around import/export and wholesale.
One of the holdings that was listed was a stationery store that was on the third story of a rather pricey building in the CBD and that from the accounts, made a surprising amount of profit. This was news to my dad and his brothers, who'd never heard of the shop, despite being involved in what they believed was every aspect of the family business.
Upon arriving at the stationery store, they made a surprising discovery; the store was actually a very upmarket illegal brothel. Apparently my grandfather had been making a deal to sell the brothel because his health no longer permitted him to run it as he had done for the past twenty-five years.
My family finished the deal and sold the 'stationery store,' which, to the best of my knowledge, continued its trade until the entire building was sold a while back and redeveloped into a shopping arcade. The brothel is now a men's clothing store (legit, I checked it out myself and bought my favorite tie there) and funnily enough I can now see that building from the place where I work."
"My grandfather died in 1976, but I just got a big box of stuff a few weeks ago. First, some background is required.
My grandfather ran a gambling concern (bookmaking and money lending) in the back of his parents grocer when he was young. As a young man (before WWII), he had two store-front businesses doing the same thing. After the war, he became a successful home-builder in our area.
For years, I have told my mother and aunts that he had to have been, in some way, associated with the mafia. We live in a town with an active Sicilian Mafia, he was Sicilian himself (his parents from Corleone and Piana degli Albanesi), and we had a great uncle who was a rather well-known mafia 'enforcer' who died in prison on his second murder conviction. My grandmother and mother and aunts always denied any involvement. I always suspected that my grandmother knew the truth, but that my mom and aunts were just kept in the dark (my mom used to dismiss my argument by saying that gambling was legal back then). I knew better, then.
Three weeks ago, my mother brings me this box. In it, among other things, is the funeral guest book. It reads as a 'whose who' of the mob in our area. I showed my mom the names and she said, 'no way...they aren't in the mob...they were our good friends.'
I got on the internet and found a site on the history of the mob in our city. My mom was shocked (but I wasn't). All of them were names of her old family friends as bosses, capos, consigliare, etc. My grandfather's name wasn't there, but 1/3 of the names in that book were there. Finally, my mom admitted that I had to be correct."
"Both my grandparents were born roughly 20 years before the war hit Belgium. So they lived through what was the period Nazis occupied our country. My grandfather was always very bitter when talking about the war. Many years ago I learned, from my dad, that my grandfather had one extra brother. This brother was killed by Germans. I never learned the details of his death until after my grandmother and father had died.
My grandmother had lived with my grandfather during the war. They had just gotten married and lived on the farm owned by my great grandfather. During the German occupation, the farm had been used as a headquarters for the resistance. I learned this because at my grandfather's funeral (he passed away a few months back) an old lady came up to me.
She was about 90 years old and hard of hearing and her grandson had brought her to my grandfather's funeral. She started talking about how my great grandfather used to be at the heart of our town's resistance. That our farm, where I still lived, was a place where the resistance would gather. Near our farm, a railroad track had been built and this was used to supply the German occupier. My grandfather and his two brothers, plus this woman and a number of other people had sneaked out one night to blow part of the track up. But their neighbor had snitched them to Gestapo (the German police) who came to arrest all of them.
That old lady along with a number of others were brought to Breendonck, a concentration camp where prisoners were only gathered not killed. My grandfather's brother tried to escape and was shot. Eventually (this lady never could tell me how) they got out. She also said that my grandparents met thanks to the resistance and got married in a basement during bombing. After the war, they remarried properly with a big feast."
"We were cleaning out my great grandmother's apartment after she died. She was 102 at the time and had still lived on her own until about a month before she died. She caught pneumonia and when you're that old, it's easy to be done in.
Grandma didn't really believe in holding on to too much, so there wasn't a lot. However, there was a lot of paperwork, her high school diploma, that kind of thing.
So a couple weeks after boxing everything up, I went through all of her papers and stuff and found some adult literature. Handwritten smutty romance. She'd apparently been writing it for years – short stories hand written in old lady script on loose-leaf."
"My grandfather died and my mom went back home with my aunts and uncle to help my grandmother clean out clutter in basement, get her stuff in order, etc. When cleaning out the basement, they find my great-grandfather's (as in my grandfather's dad's) passport. The problem with the passport is that it's a British passport and my great-grandfather was from Ireland. Keep in mind, he immigrated to the US during the 1920's. Relationships between Britain and Ireland weren't exactly great.
So my mom and her siblings were talking about this when my uncle tells them that a relative once spilled the beans while hammered and told him that he was a weapons runner for the IRA. So, given this fake passport and new back story, my family went on to speculate whether or not this fake passport even had the guy's real name on it.
After they talked about it for a while, they thought about how growing up, they never knew any Healy's (their last name). Which, for Irish immigrants in the New York area, was extremely odd. You went and lived with extended family members once you immigrated. That's just how it was, but they knew no one and my great-grandfather never talked about family, so we haven't officially found out, but it's a cool story to speculate on."
"My Pop-Pop died a few years ago at the age of 86. He was a great man and served his country as a navigator during WWII, which he never discussed. Later on, he worked as a high school teacher and principal in the Midwest. He had two daughters, my mother and my aunt, both of whom he loved unconditionally. He never went a night away from my grandmother after coming back from the war. He said he'd done enough of that to last the rest of their lives, and shortly before his death, they celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary. After his death, I found a couple of cool things in his keepsake chest - a signed photo and personal letter from Jimmy Stewart, who had served in his battalion in the Air Force (didn't know that prior to his death), and a GPS unit.
The GPS unit had been a gift from my mother some years before because he loved gadgets and was still a navigator at heart. The GPS unit had gotten him involved in some 'treasure hunts' with other navigators who basically picked a spot in the middle of nowhere, buried a box with a trinket, and then sent someone else to find it using only the coordinates provided. They would then exchange the trinket left by the previous person with a new treasure and record who had been there and what was left.
Unbeknownst to us, my grandfather had left a box buried on our property in Vermont (he lived in Texas) during his last visit, some five years earlier and left us directions to find it. When we tracked down the box using the GPS after his death, the box opened up with personalized compasses for each of his family members with the inscription, 'Not all those who wander are lost."
"My parents along with my mom's mother and step father (Granpa Joe) used to go up to a cottage in the summer. It was a place where you could rent a cottage and a boat for a week/weekend and we went up there a couple times a summer.
My dad and Granpa Joe used to go fishing there every time we went up, getting up at the crack of dawn and fishing until noon. I was never invited or interested; I was much happier playing with the other kids at the other cottages.
Eventually, they got tired of renting terrible boats, so they and got their own tinny which they stored up there year round for a couple bucks.
By the time I was 12, both my dad and Granpa Joe had passed away, but through some fluke the boat stayed up there, in storage without us paying. When I was in my 20s someone figured it out and said it had to be removed.
I live in a city and don't have the funds to go to the cottage on a regular basis, or a place to store a boat. So I made a deal with the owner. For a reduced rate, some friends and I would spend a weekend at a cottage, get the boat working and at the end of it, give it to the owners to do with as they wish. Deal done and we headed up.
After a bit of work, we got the boat going and headed out on the lake. About half-way out, a film canister rolled out from under the seat with 20 year old weed in it. Some more digging uncovered a pipe that had obviously been used.
About a month later, I told my mom. She smiled at me, patted me on the head and said 'I know, Son. That's why he never invited you out, and why your grandmother and I used to go for long walks in the afternoon.'"
"My maternal grandmother passed away a few years back and the family gathered at her home to go through all of her belongings. We were sorting through everything, keeping the items that we each wanted, selling and donating the rest. My grandmother had a beautiful china cabinet with the requisite family china and a set of silver tableware that was stored within velvet-lined organizational trays in the drawers of the cabinet.
I was working with my aunt packing up the silver and I popped out one of the velvet trays to clean out the drawer. Underneath the tray, I found a black and white photo from the 50s showing my father looking very sharp in his dress navy uniform, with his arm around my...grandmother?
Grandma was a stunningly beautiful woman back in the day. I held up the photo for my aunt with my best shocked face and she said, very matter-of-fact, 'Oh yeah, they used to date before your dad started dating your mom.'
My dad is a superboss."
"My grandfather passed away about 4 years ago, and after his funeral, I found out exactly how awesome he was.
In Sri Lanka, during the civil war, he was a doctor, so he was usually busy helping out in bombed villages and whatnot. The area he (and my mom and her siblings) lived in was relatively safe and my mom lived a good life.
One day, out of nowhere, they were bombed by the army and everything was destroyed. As in, Hiroshima and Nagasaki might have happened. Their house was nothing but dust and the only building still standing was the school, where my mom and aunts and uncles were. My grandfathher ran to the school, and even though it was still standing, a lot of kids and teachers were injured. My grandfather went to the building with my grandmother, and together, they started treating more than 500 people.
You have to realize, the army was rolling in their tanks and taking teachers and adults who were still alive and shooting them and a few shells were still falling, so the best bet for survival was to just run and hide. When the army came into the school, they took a lot of people away (my grandad couldn't save them all), but through it all, my grandad, and my grandmother were both working their way through the crowds, helping those they could, and making the others comfortable as they passed. He didn't even wait to see if my mom and the rest of his kids were alive, he got straight to work. I guess because he knew there wasn't time to look for all seven of them and help the other students and teachers. He saved so many lives that day and I only found out at his funeral.
A lot of people from the village came – the old students and so many of them told my mother or my aunts and uncles 'Your dad saved my life, he fixed my arm, he bandaged my head, etc, etc.'"
"My favorite uncle died when I was in middle school. This uncle spent time in jail long before I was born, but the family kind of treated him like a criminal/loser. My mom always told me he had gone to jail for shipping some stuff from Hawaii in the late 70's
My mom got control over all his property, so we were in charge of cleaning the house out etc. I remember the first time walking into the house after he passed, my parents went straight for his dresser and I followed. My mom opened up the top drawer and my dad had a duffel bag. Next thing I see is my mom putting freezer bags STUFFED with weed into this duffel bag. There was probably ten of these bags.
Next, there were larger than normal labeled mason jars full to the top with seeds. They were labeled with names like Columbian Red '75, Big Bud, Thai, Acapulco '74 are the ones I remember. At the time, I didn't think they were a big deal because I had never even seen weed before then. Looking back at that moment, I am just punching myself in the face for letting those genetics go right into the trash bag. Turns out that my uncle had moved to Hawaii in the late 70's to grow. His packages were discovered going through the post and the FBI followed him for a few months. Newspaper clippings say they had confiscated over 300 pounds going through mail. I also found a bunch of picture albums with pictures of the growing. It's one of my most prized possessions. RIP Dave."
"My great-grandmother was from Puerto Rico. She came of age and got married during the depression, so her and great-grandpa suffered and saved. Pretty amazing that they moved between Mayagüez and Detroit several times in their life.
Anyway, its pretty common practice amongst those of the age group to save their money in weird ways. Common practice in Puerto Rico was to bury your money, but grandma was way too old to bury things. So, when she died, my grandmother, aunt, and cousin started going through her things.
Lo and behold, while going through socks (yes, socks of all things) they found $20,000. It was all neatly bundled, and stitched right into the socks.
Grandma had two funerals, one in Detroit and one in Puerto Rico. Not only did she have two funerals, but all of that money went to pay for my grandparents, Dad, Aunts, Uncle, and myself to go for the burial in Puerto Rico. My first trip on a plane.
My grandmother and great-aunt also took that money and paid off their own funeral plots, after everything was said and done."
"My dad's mother and father got divorced when he was 13 or 14 years old. My grandfather eventually remarried and is alive to this day. My grandmother never remarried and died several years back of a stroke.
I liked to think everyone in my family was perfect but, I found out that my grandmother harbored so much bitterness in her heart toward my grandfather. It's likely that he was cheating on her and perhaps some other scumbag thing - he's not a bad guy, but has made some mistakes, as we all have - and she could never move on. My dad and his two siblings (brother and sister) grew up believing that they basically never loved each other.
After she died, my mother did some rummaging through my grandmother's crummy apartment. Buried under all the credit card bills and knickknacks, she found love letters. Dozens of them. Hundreds of them. Between my grandmother and grandfather. Intimate, awesome, wide-eyed love letters that they wrote to each other through their teens and well into their marriage. She kept all of them and never told her kids.
It doesn't change what happened, but it demonstrated to her kids and grand kids how powerful and full of love their union was at first (until it wasn't, obviously). I think it helped my dad and his sister really get past a lot of the resentment and definitely showed a new side to that relationship of which I am a product.