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Family secrets ­— to keep or not to keep?

Let's Get Organized

Do you have family secrets you don’t want anyone to know about? Do you have letters, diaries, or notes you don’t want anyone to read? If you died today, would your loved ones find items you didn’t want revealed?

When we were cleaning out my parents’ house we ran across letters they had written to each other when my dad went to Army boot camp in World War II. There was quite a discussion about them, as none of us knew they existed. Some of us were excited to read what went on in those days.

One of my brothers was quite insistent that we not read them. He felt they were personal just to each other and wanted us to burn them. He also said that he had letters he had sent his wife that he did not want anyone to read and thought he should destroy them if we thought these were okay to read.

Well, we did end up reading them. There was nothing that they would not have wanted us to read. What I do remember is that my mom talked about playing ping pong. Really? My mom never played a game when we had a ping pong table in our home growing up. Who would have guessed it? There were no big surprises revealed in the letters. Mostly day-to-day living was discussed.

Several years ago I thought about what I wouldn’t want my sons to see. It was a diary entry about a guy I dated that they knew but didn’t know I dated. That part of my life is best left buried, so I threw out the diary and felt better having done so.

Or, maybe it is time to come clean about family secrets. Maybe we would clear our consciences if we revealed secrets from the past. If it has to do with health issues, it may be important to tell our relatives. It may not be as big of a shock to others as we think it will. Interestingly, I did tell one of my sons about my “secret” to which he responded by wanting to immediately share the news with his brothers. Having been sworn to secrecy, he could not, but he was actually more surprised than I thought he’d be. It turned out not to be as big of a deal as I thought it would be, telling him, but I would like to tell the other sons myself, if I feel the need.

What about diaries? If you know loved ones who share their feelings in writing, it might be a good conversation to have as to whether they would like their thoughts shared after they are gone. They may have very definite feelings about that. I very seldom write down my feelings for that very reason — I don’t necessarily want to share them with anyone. If you have items you don’t want to share, you could possibly write a note with them stating your wish to destroy them when you are gone.

Or, maybe you want to reveal secrets after you are gone. The sad part is that not all questions may be answered when that happens.

It is all something to think about, as we do not know how long we have on this earth. We need to be prepared, no matter what. Leave with no regrets.

Doris Puls, of D & O Decluttering and Organizing, is a professional organizer whose mission is to make a difference in the lives of the people she works with in homes and businesses. Contact her at organizealpena@gmail.com or at 989-356-9545.

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