And in the end

Do you every worry about what will happen to all your crap when you die? All the embarrassing diaries and love letters and chocolate wrappers and half-written stories and ill-considered underwear. And the digital mess of emails and photos and blogs.

If your end comes swift and suddenly you won’t have a chance to clean things up and destroy evidence. If you carry on to old age at what point do you decide, I better start tying up loose ends? You’d have to time it right to make sure you could enjoy your treasures and secrets for the maximum time possible but still have sufficient faculties left to do what needed to be done.

It’s the thought of those left behind having to sort through all your stuff. It could be my husband or my sister or a child or the budgie or the indifferent social worker but it makes me nervous to think of them digging around and cringing at stupid things scribbled years ago or finding something I forgot to burn and thinking Crikey, what a dickhead, we never knew her at all.

About Shauna Reid

Ahoy there! I’m Shauna, an author, copywriter and content mentor. I love telling stories about life and helping others to tell theirs.

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10 thoughts on “And in the end

  1. I am so with you there! A girlfriend let us know that there were certain things she certainly never wanted her family to find in the event of her death, and then she DID die, and we were able to fulfil her wishes and remove the diaries, wobbly toys, etc…. of course, she (and only she) knew she was going to die.
    commit all your embarrassing stuff to computer. Password it (I use a One Note dairy) and forget about it! not sure about the embarrassing underwear, perhaps keep it in your husbands drawers??

  2. I’ve been pondering this a lot lately as I’ve started a subject in digital preservation as part of my library course. The other day I found some fairly embarrassing stuff that I wrote 10 years ago on a Belle and Sebastian mailing list. There was my maiden name, popping up on a Google search, accompanying a post describing the difference between oral and vaginal thrush. And then there’s my old Live Journal from 2004. It’s still public and I’ve lost the password to delete it!

  3. HOW BIZARRE. Just yesterday I asked my best friend to make sure that when I die, she comes and cleans out my sewing room (“take the fabric you want but throw everything else – the projects in the wardrobe aren’t salvagable!”). I know David wouldn’t be able to cope with it (in as much as he has only a dodgy idea of what “fabric” is) and I was worried that he would stay in this large house purely because he couldn’t work out how to clean out the sewing room.

    Also I have much, much fabric which perhaps speaks to some hoarding disorder, and I don’t really want everyone to know about that!

    I am not going to die anytime soon, so why I freaked out about this I don’t know.

  4. Maybe it’s sort of sad, but I really never worry much about this. I lived with my family until I was 26, so they know what my underwear looks like, and I really don’t have many dark secrets.

    Admittedly anyone who cleared through my stuff might be baffled by the numbers of science fiction and fantasy novels, pairs of socks, and black tops I possess. But none of that is really a secret.

    My mother is threatening to destroy her diary (which dates back to her teens) so that nobody who knew her will ever read it. I’ve suggested that she wills it to an archive and stipulates a long closure period, because I can’t bear to think of her destroying it, even if I never get to see it myself.

    I never managed to keep a diary for long, other than my blog. And everyone in my family twigged that long ago.

  5. I worry that they’ll never be able to figure out my umpteen different passwords I use all over the Interwebs for accessing important information. Like, will they even be able to update my blog to announce my death?

  6. It’s good to know I’m not the only person who worries about this sort of stuff. Although I think my death would be so emotionally crippling to all those around me that my bedroom would be sacred ground that nobody dare walk on.

    Except for the part where it’s not. And if I died, people would be in here fighting over who get’s what within about a week.

  7. It’s okay, nature has a way of dealing with this stuff. As you get older, you start to forget where you put stuff, then you start to forget what you had in the first place. This process starts, as far as I can tell, when you turn 40.

  8. My dad died suddenly when I was a kid so I’ve frequently spent time contemplating this issue. After uni I spent 3 years overseas and when I got back to Australia had to sift through my stuff. I spent a week sitting in Mum’s garage, reading old diaries and moaning “what a WANKER”). I chucked the lot.

    I’m now preparing to head o/seas again so anything that missed the first cull (and all the angst I’ve committed to paper in the interim years) has now been consigned to the fire. Mostly so my family don’t come across it.

    Perhaps it depends on your closeness to your family. My family consider me pretty much an alien but it doesn’t stop them being critical. I’m currently wondering how to go about blogging my upcoming travels – on the one hand I’m taking their only granddaughter/niece so want to provide photos and updates, but on the other I want to be able to write without worrying about their reaction…and I don’t think I’d have the stamina to keep up with two blogs 🙁

  9. I’ve sorted that. Have left an envelope with details in my bedside table to read if I die suddenly. Mum and husband know it’s there.

    The only thing I want destroyed are my diaries from Year 7 onwards. Lots of pain and misery there…lol!
    I thought about destroying them but I can’t bear the thought.

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