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Dying People Writing Letters to Living Loved Ones

Letters From the Grave — Creepy or Sweet?

Dying is a tricky business. Die young, and you never grow old or experience loss, but live long and you'll have to watch friends and family suffer. In many ways, being left behind is the worst, especially when the departed sends letters from the grave.

One dying mother in England left not notes but a wish list for her sons and husband. Eat together, be on time, make up after a fight, treat girlfriends with respect, and never smoke, ride a motorbike, or join the armed forces. It seems sweet, but potentially troubling.

I once heard (I think on This American Life) about a dying mother who wrote letters to her daughter that were to be delivered every birthday until her 30th. The letters became a source of annual upset that often weren't read until b-day celebrations died down. She wasn't sorry she had them, but she was relieved when they stopped.

I can understand a dying person would want to tell loved ones how to carry on, but is it more disturbing to the living than it's worth?

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stephley stephley 6 years
I like the momentos(es?) thing.
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 6 years
Hmm... this is a tough one. In a way, I'd love to have something that kind of felt like the deceased was still there. But on the other hand, it might really interfere with the grieving process and make it hard to move on.
totygoliguez totygoliguez 6 years
I think that if you have young children, it would be nice for them to have something from their deceased parent.
totygoliguez totygoliguez 6 years
I think that if you have young children, it would be nice for them to have something from their deceased parent.
WarEagleNurse WarEagleNurse 6 years
I have gotten Christmas, birthday, and anniversary cards from the deceased.
vabeachbum vabeachbum 6 years
I heard a news story about something like this. A mom with two young boys was dying of breast cancer so she left things for her sons. But she only left things for major mile stones... car key rings for their 16th birthdays, cuff links for their wedding days, things like that. I thought it was really sweet and touching. I think it would be upsetting to have to be reminded every birthday of the person you lost... but I do think its okay to leave things for big milestones.
tlsgirl tlsgirl 6 years
I wouldn't like it. I feel like it would just restart the grieving again and again, but I'd feel awful hating it. It would just be a recipe for disaster.
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 6 years
One of my friends lost an uncle who left letters to be found upon his death. For example, in his safety deposit box one that said "If you're reading this I must be dead! That means I'm watching you!" He was a jokester. I thought it would be totally upsetting, but my friend loved it. I guess it depends on the family.
le-romantique le-romantique 6 years
(I LOVE This American Life, by the way) I think it's ok to an extent. Maybe a letter for a milestone/Wedding Day, or a written Will, of course. I think a written will is/looks more important than alegal document since the family/friends/etc. will see the writing and will realize the importance and such... I don't know...
stephley stephley 6 years
Why the need to direct other people's lives from the grave? A living parent has to recognize their child's independence eventually. If you're dead, you don't know what changed circumstances your loved one's are dealing with. A quick "I love you more than anything and I know you'll be fine" seems more than sufficient.
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