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kritiper's avatar

Your parents have both passed away. One day you find a letter from your mother, adressed to you, with instructions : "Not to be opened until after my death." Will you read it? When?

Asked by kritiper (21045points) May 29th, 2018

letter from your mother, addressed to you, with instructions on the back: “NOT to be opened until after my death.”

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29 Answers

chyna's avatar

Of course I will. I will read it the minute I find it.

Jeruba's avatar

Absolutely yes. Provided that it is indeed addressed to me.

Probably the same day, but maybe not the same minute.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Of course,why wouldn’t you?

janbb's avatar

Of course.

LadyMarissa's avatar

Since she addressed it to me, you better believe I’d read it just as soon as I found it because it would be something important that she felt I needed to know!!!

zenvelo's avatar


And I have thought about writing such notes to my own children.

LadyMarissa's avatar

@zenvelo I suggest that you do it & put it in a place where they can discover it later.
My husband passed a month before my birthday. On my birthday the following year, I opened the door to the cabinet to get a movie to watch & I discovered the most beautiful birthday card from him telling me how much he loved me & how I had changed his life for the better. That was the absolute BEST birthday present that I had ever received!!!
That’s why I suggest you hide it so they will find it in their own time!!!

Jeruba's avatar

@SQUEEKY2, why wouldn’t you? Well, what if you anticipated something other than a kind, loving, or important message? Maybe something that’s literally her having the last word—and that can’t be undone or mitigated or ever worked out? Not everyone would confidently welcome such a belated and one-sided communication.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

Yes. Your mother had something to say, and she took the time to write a letter. I think it would be wrong to deny her instruction and final wish.

canidmajor's avatar

To illustrate’s @Jeruba’s point, @SQUEEKY2, I have been estranged from my mother for three years now. I would imagine anything she had to say would be horrid.
If it was some kind of apology or loving message, I would see it as load of manipulative crap, designed to cause more pain.

So, no. Probably not.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Suppose the letter were something like:

“You never knew this, but you aren’t my child. You were the child of my insane sister Zelda, who was impregnated by the milkman in 1956” or something similarly earthshaking and disturbing.

janbb's avatar

Even thought my mother was extremely erratic and very difficult, I would still be curious to see what she had to say but I can understand people feeling otherwise.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

Knowing how easy I miss your points @canidmajor I can see it would matter a great deal on how close you were to you parents at the time of their passing,if you would read their letter or not.
I would indeed read such a letter,where you I can see why you wouldn’t.
Did I get your point or like usual miss it entirely?

canidmajor's avatar

No, you got it. I actually think it’s nice that so many here would read such a missive without question. It makes me happy when people have good relationships with their folks.
A letter from my Dad I would read with delight.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Yes. In fact my mother did leave a letter for my brother and me to be opened after my father died.
Over fifty years ago she was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer and knew she had limited time to spend with her pre-teen kids. My father died about 20 years ago and we were given the letter at that time.
My mom started it off by saying we were now on our own and she wanted to pass along some advice and love.
It was a beautiful letter to us telling us to be good boys, not fight, love the future women in our lives. Oh man! I’m tearing up just thinking about it.

So, yes, I would and did open the letter.

Side note… My Mom was really smart. She treated the whole terrible ordeal as a learning experience for us. One day, after finding a lump in her remaining breast, she called us into her room and put our hands on her breast so we could feel the tumor that was killing her. She wanted us to know what it felt like so we would be able to help our future wives or girlfriends.
I think about that every now and then and how awesome she was! What a gift!

Jeruba's avatar

I would read it, but never without question.

LadyMarissa's avatar

@LuckyGuy You were blessed to have had such a wonderful Mother!!! I now wonder if you aren’t my long lost brother???

LuckyGuy's avatar

@LadyMarissa She didn’t mention anything about other siblings in the letter but I accept the compliment and the honorary brother title.

I hope my comments above did not come off as creepy. It wasn’t at all. I was about 12 and my brother about 10. My Mom started the conversation off by saying (paraphrasing as best I can remember) “Some day you boys will have girlfriends and will marry. You should know what a breast lump feels like so you can warn your wives. Here. Put your fingertips here. Now move them around. Here and here. Feel that lump? That is what’s making me sick.”
She made both of us a lot smarter. A gift indeed. Thanks Mom!

LadyMarissa's avatar

@LuckyGuy I was trying to pay you the highest compliment that I could. I also had a WONDERFUL Mother. Her sister used to tell me that I had a sweet brother that I had never met & then would tell my brother that he was found hatching out behind the barn. My brother & I are so damn different that for a second there I was hoping that you were the sweet brother that I’ve never met!!!

zenvelo's avatar

So the common answer to the question is that it depends on the relationship one and with the parent.

People who had loving, supportive parents or are reconciled at the time the writer died, would read the letter; people who are estranged would not.

JLeslie's avatar

It makes me curious what the parents would want to say to their children who cut them off. My sister cut herself off from my dad. I wonder if my dad has written a letter? I feel pretty sure no matter what he wrote it would be terrorizing to her, even if the letter’s intent was to be caring.

I’m not asking anyone to answer what I’ve written above, I don’t want to steer the Q off track, but the thread is quite interesting.

I’ve thought about writing letters to be opened after my death to my MIL and SIL many many times. I doubt I’ll do it.

There is just so much misunderstand wth my inlaws it’s annoying. I feel like I want to once and for all articulate every time there were misunderstandings. I could take my time thinking through what I want to say and get someone to translate into Spanish. I don’t see myself ever doing it for many reasons.

kritiper's avatar

GA’s going out to all!
My mother hasn’t passed yet but is in a nursing home.
A Irish Catholic raised in a all-girl Catholic school, she has written letters to all 8 of her kids for us to read after she goes. I was thinking the other night just what she might have to say without any of us being able to respond. I think she’d say something about me leaving the church!

MooCows's avatar

I would be just too curious to NOT read the letter. Even if it was from someone I did not get along with I would still have to read it. My mother left me a poem and she was a very educated woman. I felt so special because that poem was for me and I read it so many times I almost had it memorized…...THEN something happened that I wish never had. I can’t remember the details but I found out that she did not write the poem herself but used another’s poem and I verified it by looking up the author of it. She never said she wrote the poem I just assumed she did as that would be so typical of my mother. I cried when I found out and it made me question other things in life that she told me. I don’t know why but from then on i saw her differently and that feeling won’t go away. Does anyone understand how I feel?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@LuckyGuy I see one reason why you turned out the way you did. Having good parents is one of the highest privileges someone can have. I feel the same way about mine.

LadyMarissa's avatar

@MooCows Yes, I understand how you feel; but I’d like to play the Devil’s Advocate for a second. Your Mother obviously loved you & didn’t have the words she felt she needed in order to tell you. She read a poem that touched her heart & made her think of you; so, she copied it to give to you because it said exactly what she’d love to say. For every special occasion in my Mother’s life , I gave her a card that said exactly what I wish I could write. I’d spend hours standing in the card shop going through every card until I found the one that expressed my thoughts exactly. In all honesty, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to say UNTIL I opened the PERFECT card & I immediately knew that I could stop looking.

Your Mother did NOT lie to you…she just found the words that she’d love to write to you except that someone else had already written them. Regardless of who wrote them, she loved you enough to want to make sure that you heard them from HER heart!!! She would have NEVER done it IF she had realized how hurt you would be. So, go back to read it one more time & hear it with your Mother reading her favorite poem to you & hear the love in her voice. Personally, I hope you can find it in your heart to forgive her because she did it because she LOVED you so freaking much!!!

MooCows's avatar

LadyMarissa….I so needed to hear what you had to say and I never looked at it that way!
I can now hear my mother’s voice saying the poem and now I see that she probably took alot of her time picking out what she wanted me to remember….there are really no words to express what one feels in the heart especially for a child….it is beyond comprehension. Thinking about it I don’t know where I would start to leave my sons a letter. I have been so bitter about this and now after reading your words I feel like I let HER down. It was hard for my mother to say I love you as I don’t believe she heard it much from her parents during the depression with so many siblings. But the things she did made up for it and I didn’t realize it until I was grown up and had children of my own. I made a vow that I would say I love you every chance I got to my 2 sons and also so they would learn to say it from hearing it. Thank you for your answer to me as now my poem means more than ever. Its like you turned on a light!

LadyMarissa's avatar

@MooCows Just glad to be of service!!! My parents were also raised during the depression & I was 40 years old before I ever heard “I love you” from them. Never hearing the words & feeling it in my heart, I looked for cards that expressed what I would have loved to say given the opportunity. Before she died, my Mother thanked me for all the kind words & love I made her feel with my cards. On her last day with us,I could tell that she would be leaving soon; so, when I had to leave for the day, I hugged her goodbye & told her that I loved her. She couldn’t speak at the time so she couldn’t tell me back; but, I felt her snuggle into my hug & knew what she was trying to say. I always knew that she did; but she just couldn’t say the words!!!

You did NOT let your Mother down. Had she still been here with you, she would have understood that you didn’t understand what she just couldn’t say!!! Now that you understand, she can rest in peace!!!

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