"I had a cousin who committed suicide when he was only 12 years old. This was a kid that was always a bit of a loner and kind of a bookworm but also seemed smarter than other kids and was very mature for his age. Always very polite but quiet and would spend more time watching than participating in anything. There certainly didn't seem like there was anything that would cause him to end how own life. His family seemed close and normal. Maybe a bit more religious than some but I don't recall them being over the top with it. It did turn out that he was bullied quite a bit at school. I guess it was because he never fought back, wasn't very big and had no close friends that would stand up for him. It was the time before the whole anti-bullying movement had gotten anywhere so I'm not sure if his parents or anyone else would ever know how bad it was.
About three months after his death, both his parents started to suggest to my parents that I should be the one to go through his room. I was 18 at the time, and since my cousin and I weren't that close, I guess his parents thought I would have an easier time with it.
When I look back at it, I am glad I was the one who did it, but I also wish I hadn't gone anywhere near his room. His parents were religious, and I suspect that they not only wanted to avoid the pain of going through his stuff but wanted to avoid finding anything that would taint their view of their angelic, well-behaved child.
I agreed to do it.
I started separating all his stuff. Clothes, toys, books, keepsakes that I thought his parents might want to save, etc. As I got deeper into his closet I suspected I might actually find a smut stash and sure enough, there in the back under a bunch of old books in the bottom of a box I found a smaller, flatter box that was magazine sized. SCORE!
Not so much. There was no smut. There was, however, lots of loose papers, a sketchbook, and some Polaroids. This was in the '90s, so there was no such thing as internet smut for a family of religious people that didn't own a computer. Nor were digital cameras a thing. But there were instant cameras, and my cousin had one.
I started to go through the papers, which were all drawings and sketches. I think at first my mind wasn't processing what I was looking at. It took me a bit before I realized what my cousin had been drawing. It was all drawings of torture and grisly murder scenes. Some detailed, some just gory. Nasty, nasty stuff. Boys, girls, adults, babies, animals, it was all there. Poorly drawn, but still horrific to see. I flipped through the sketchbook, and it was more of the same. Sometimes there was occult-like stuff, but not very often. I do remember a few pages all in a row that had the words 'am I the devil?' written in it over and over.
At this point, I did NOT want to look a the photos, but I did anyway. My cousin had apparently escalated beyond just drawing pictures. The photos were of cats, birds, and who knows what else that had been tortured and killed. Freaking horrible, horrible images that I wish I could unsee. I am almost in tears again just thinking about it, and this was over 20 years ago.
Anyway, I packed up the box and left with it before talking to or seeing anyone in the house. I found a dumpster behind a grocery store and tossed it in. In hindsight, I probably should have burned it all, but oh well.
I never told his parents or anyone else about it. It wasn't out of any sense of decency. I just wanted to forget about what I had seen or at least pretend I hadn't found it for my own sake. So I let everyone continue to think it was the bullying that pushed him over the edge. It may well have been, but I wonder if part of it was because he saw what he was becoming, and decided to stop himself before things got worse."
"I befriended an older gentleman who didn't have any family or friends. He moved into our area, and I struck up a conversation with him after church one particular Sunday. We kept in touch regularly for about three years. I would take him to Doctor appointments and the like, and I think he enjoyed having someone around to keep an eye on him. He was struck down by pneumonia pretty bad, and as I was the only person in his mobile phone, the hospital rang me to let me know he was pretty low. It's an amazing thing to watch someone die, and I'm glad he had someone around to be there with him. Afterward, as I was the only contact, I was asked by his solicitor if I would clean out his apartment. So off I went. I found his will and a few other documents. He wasn't a millionaire or anything, but he had a few rare coins, $50,000 in a bank account and over $300,000 in shares. His will said that it was to be divided up among certain charities and other groups. However what was in his diary was the real kicker. He was to have an appointment with his solicitor the following week after he died to make changes to his will to make me the sole beneficiary of his estate. I simply pretended not to see it and move on to his old photo box that contained pictures of him in drag. Amazing as he was a very devout gent."
"When my mother was killed by her ex-husband, I was one of the people tasked with packing our house. He stalked her and would often break into the house. My mother knew, but no one else did. As a result, when we were taking things down, like pictures and such, we would find things hidden behind them. Items such as checkbooks to hidden bank accounts from him, or even worse, notebooks full of dates and accounts of events where he would engage her (she had a restraining order on him). Usually these engagements, according to the notebook, were awful. Tires were slashed, she was followed, and he would berate her on a seemingly daily basis. The thing is though, she kept it all secret from the family. What makes it so hard is she might still be here today if she would have told everyone about these things."
"My grandmother passed after a blood clot incident. She had several conditions that led to this. For example, her medical team decided not to treat her breast cancer because they figured she would die before it would spread.
My father, uncle, and my sisters were left to clean out her things from her apartment. She had a lot of old, expired food. Like ketchup that had gone completely black. We found things from when she was well and social, like her quilting and handmade soaps, which were beautiful. She has a quilt that had the names of all of our family, but the names were sewn in the individuals handwriting style.
However, one day it was just my dad and me, going through her bedside table. We found her journal. Toward the end, all of the entries were about how lonely she was, how she only got to see her grandchildren twice a year, and how her own children never saw her unless they needed something. She said she wanted to die. My dad threw it away so his brother would never have to see it."
"My father died of a massive heart attack just a week before my wedding (which was December 28, so right at Christmas too). He didn't suffer; it was clearly one of the dead-before-he-hit-the-floor variety.
But in the mad scramble to go through his (rented) house and get everything cleaned out while still putting the finishing touches on the wedding planning, I found a legal pad with some notes on it. It looked something like this:
March 3, 2013 2 a.m. 7/10; March 15, 2013 3:30 a.m. 4/10; March 21,201: 5 p.m. 6/10; April 2,2013 2:15 p.m. 9/10.
It was a list of chest pains and ratings of how bad.
There was also a list of notes - all from very late at night - debating pros and cons of suicide. It always looked like this:
Reasons for: Tired. Everyone I know is dead. The body doesn't work well. Blind (he had lost vision in one eye). Nothing to do. It's inevitable.
Reasons against: My son (me).
Taken all together, it was pretty clear he knew a giant heart attack was coming and committed suicide by not going to the doctor. Any of a dozen common medicines would have reduced his risk factor. He just gave up.
I was the only reason he could find not to kill himself. At the time, what with the wedding and the holidays (also my birthday is December 21, his was December 23, and his funeral was the 24th) I didn't have any time to think about the implications of that, but now."
"My dad's grandmother was a hoarder. When she died, he had to go clear out the house, which was no easy task. My dad always tells us about how you couldn't even see the walls of the house because of the amount of stuff she had lying around, and how she looked so tiny walking around in the little hallways she managed to make in between all kinds of objects.
After several days of trying to clear out the house, my dad finally made it to her bedroom. It was filled with all kinds of things, ranging from 20 types of brooms to several harps she had bought during her long trips to Europe. He found all kinds of surprising stuff, but the one that ended up being the craziest one was a letter.
He found it on her bedside table, and it caught his attention because of the wax seal and what was written on the envelope 'To be opened by my daughter, only after my death.' My dad called his mom immediately since she was his grandmother's only daughter. After getting her permission, he opened the envelope and found a letter and a birth certificate.
In the letter, his grandmother explained how she was never able to have children, and how ashamed she and her husband always felt (big Catholics, beginning of 20th century Mexico). She always wanted to have a child, so they decided to take a trip through Europe, from which they would come back with a baby. This baby was my dad's mom, who always looked a bit different from her family (as white as it can be, bluest eyes you've ever seen). They found her in an orphanage run by some nuns in the north of France and immediately fell in love with her. Adoption was a big taboo at the time, so no one ever knew about it. The story they told was that she had gotten pregnant during their trip and had given birth to the baby in Europe. They brought her back to Mexico and registered her as a newborn, even though she was already several years old.
My grandmother lived all her life thinking she was her parent's biological daughter. At 45, through a letter, she found out that she was adopted, that she was older than what she always thought and that she was French, not Mexican.
My dad had to tell her all of this through the phone while trying to understand a birth certificate written in French. My grandma eventually hired a private investigator and found her family in France."
"I cleaned out my cousin's room after his overdose and painted and re-decorated it because he was living with my mom and she couldn't bear to see his room. While I wasn't the one that found it, he was holding his cell phone when he died, and the person that found him and the phone saw the text he had sent to his addict girlfriend saying 'I think I'm going to die.'
She didn't even try to call 911."
"My brother committed suicide last year and going through his stuff was awful. He didn't leave a note or anything, but he was an aspiring musician and we found his song lyrics. I would never have guessed he was in such a dark place to write those kinds of things. I was up all that night with those words stuck in my head. He seemed so excited to die, so hopeless for everything else but he always hid it from us. Later on, I went back to his room by myself just to take it all in. I found a hidden notebook with even more, including something he'd written about feeling sorry for how this would affect my sister and somewhat blaming my Mom for how he felt. I debated for hours if I should tear out that page or not because I knew it would hurt my mom terribly just to see what he thought of her when she saw him in such a good light, as such a sweet and loving son.
What really hurt the most though was after seeing what he wrote about my sister I looked for something, anything he might have written about me or left for me. There was nothing, I searched for so long because I just wanted some kind of last words to hold on to, something to show he thought of me but never found anything."
"Helping my mom sort through her cousin's belongings, it quickly became obvious that her cousin had led a lonely, yet eclectic life. In between beautiful pieces of modern art and Louis Vuitton luggage were stacks of letters that were never mailed and odd collections of random items. I came across a small cardboard box taped closed and labeled with 'James' written in marker on the outside. I shook the box a bit, noting that felt full and was relatively heavy. I turned to my mom and told her that I thought her cousin meant for this box to go to someone named James, to which my mom said, 'Oh no, honey, James is what is IN the box. Well, after he was cremated.' Yep, my mother's cousin lived for years with her friend James's ashes just hanging out in a cardboard box next to her luggage.
I quickly dropped the box of the complete stranger's ASHES and decided I had enough of packing for that day. Sadly, more than 20 years later, my family still thinks it is humorous to label gifts to me in boxes with a 'James' written in black marker."
"When my Grandpa died, we found a bunch of stuff that no one knew existed.
Some of it was just photos of him while he served as a captain in the Navy during WWII, posing with topless Polynesian women. Not so bad.
Some of it was an extensive library of Betamax smut films (at least 20 tapes). Grandma said, 'I always wondered why he kept that Betamax. We only owned one movie.' Smut, g-ma, that's why.
And one of the things we found was the deed to a house we didn't know anything about. When my parents went to this house, they found a woman we'd never met, who was living there, thanks to 'grandpa's kindness.' We also found that he'd been paying not only the mortgage but also depositing about $5,000 per month into this woman's bank account. She was his mistress and was literally less than half his age (he was in his late 70s, she was 32). Grandma refused to believe it, and to her dying day, swore we made it all up.
But it was real, and it was stunning.
I knew my grandpa was kind of a terrible person. The one time he had come to visit us (instead of us visiting them), I was 10 years old, and he had told us 'I'll come back when he's playing football in high school.' I never played football, and he never came back. My mom has stories of him being a jerk to her and my aunt. We think he beat grandma, but we're not certain and she never said either way. I often describe him as 'a man's man and a ladies' man, but not a good man.'
Finding the pictures of him with topless natives was funny. That's the sort of thing we expected to find. The smut was gross, but not wholly out of character. But the mistress was really gross and sad and disappointing and disgusting and tragic all at once. This woman did not know that grandpa was married or had kids or grandkids. She thought she was helping some rich old guy feel less alone. She lost her house and her income on the same day, and she is going to have to live the rest of her life thinking she ruined someone's family. She didn't ruin it, not really, but no one involved was nice to her, and even though I was pretty young at the time, I do sort of regret how my parents treated her. Really they were mad at grandpa for betraying grandma and betraying us.
I really want to like my grandpa. I want to remember him fondly. After the obituary went out, we got more than 200 letters in the mail from veterans who had served with him during the war, and all of them basically said 'your grandpa saved my life.' He was a legitimate hero to these men.
I wish he'd been a hero to me, too."
"About a year and a half ago, my stepfather passed away. My mother came home from work and found him on the floor in the garage. He was 52 years old.
He used to be addicted to painkillers. Had a hip replacement and surgery on his shoulder, and got addicted to his prescriptions. Eventually, he was cut off and turned to smack.
My mother wanted me to get on his FB page and find out where he was that day. She came home from lunch the day he died, and his truck was gone.
I found various messages of him begging people for money, asking to score some illegal substances. I found conversations with an old adult dancer girlfriend of his. I found the message that killed him.
He went to a friend's house to get some smack, came home, and used it. It stopped his heart. He laid on the floor for about two hours before my mom and my ten-year-old niece found him like that."
"My dad was the only living relative in this state for my great uncle who was a hoarder. We found so many things in that 700 sq. Ft house. It was awful.
We can start with the McDonald's bag with french fries from 1976 (Had the receipt in the bag, that's why we knew the date), rubbers that expired in the '80s hidden in books, VHS smut, a non-working toilet filled with feces (He had no running water for at least 10 years - he covered the toilet with a trash bag and duct tape), milk jugs filled with urine (we are talking about 30), dead trash pandas, dead mice, cockroaches, and a ton of collectible items from flea markets.
In case you're wondering why we even bothered, there was almost $100,000 of a coin and bill collection, random money stuffed everywhere, random money orders not made out to anyone, and a ton of other miscellaneous things that were worth big money. So, hazmat suits and all, we all braved the disgustingness and cleared out the house and garage."
"My husband died of a heart attack in 2009.
He was a widower when we got married. I found a letter his first wife wrote before she died. She was upset because he wasn't supportive. She also said she would have gotten a divorce if she wasn't dying.
Their son (who became my son) was only 3 when his mom died and 12 when his dad died. I destroyed that letter. I honestly think he never, ever needed to see that letter. I'd much rather he's left with the illusion that his parents had a perfect if tragic, marriage."
"My father was a successful businessman who was originally from Detroit. He grew up in a dangerous and low-income neighborhood but was able to get into a good school and complete an engineering degree. Eventually, he owned his own machine shop, and things were going well. After 2008's crash, the stress got to him.
Shortly after I left for college, my mother forced my father to check into rehab for his crippling addiction. He made it a few weeks sober but relapsed. This happened two more times, and he was behaving violently and driving after having too much to drink frequently. My mother divorced him, and he holed up in an apartment for a few months before ultimately drinking himself to death.
I cleaned out his apartment and found significant amounts of his rehab literature. I was happier not knowing details, but I did not want to throw out any paperwork that was significant for settling the estate. While combing through, I found a worksheet where he wrote a timeline of his substance abuse. I found out that he started at age 11, and by the time he was 14, he was smoking daily and drinking on weekends. I was stunned; it certainly explained a lot, but I was much happier not knowing. I can't imagine growing up in an environment where parents would be oblivious or apathetic to that. Despite his insanities, I'm grateful that he found a way to raise me in an environment that was more healthy and structured than the only one he knew."
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