What would you do please?

I’ve just learned my Stepdaughter is visiting the UK and would like me to give her some stuff from her childhood that my Husband saved. I’m OK with this but I told her that even after all this time I wasn’t upto going through his wardrobe for some of the items. I don’t think I can do this and explained this to her. But then she told me her Mum had passed away as well and I don’t feel I can deny her. She offered to help go through the wardrobe but I really don’t want her to. I don’t want his “space” to be ransacked through.
The thing is as well is that my Husband was storing some items of his ex-wife’s as a favour as she had to go into a rest-home and there is a box of what I presume to be love letters from him to her Mum. Obviously they are no concern of mine, I have no desire to see them, and I do feel they belong with her and her siblings, it’s their heritage. BUT what if my Husband wouldn’t have wanted his adult children to see the letters he wrote? I don’t want to deprive her but I’m bothered about whether my Husband would want me to let them have them or not. I understand it’s an odd question to ask but time is running out and it’s causing me some distress. I don’t want to do what my husband wouldn’t have wanted me to if he’d have rather they weren’t seen. They weren’t a close family at all and barely kept in touch with their Dad. I’m torn and I can’t make a decision. Sorry for the rambling. Thanks for reading.

Morning Tina
there are two ways of looking at things here and two separate issues
The love letters, both parties involved have passed you could argue that as such the letters should be destroyed as it only involved them however the daughter might gain an insight into her parents love and see that she was born out of love (dependent on what is actually in the letters. We always think that because the people concerned kept these things that they meant so much to them it could be he simply forgot about them. I know my loss has made me sort out my papers! If it was me as I do not know what is in the letters I would probably destroy them if the ex wife had been alive I would have given them to her.
Second problem going thru his things, the very fact that you cannot touch his things leaves you upset and that you use the word ransacked says a lot. If you are not ready you are not ready but it sounds like she is coming a long way , this may be a way of helping you too, perhaps get a friend/family member to be with you whilst you do it, that way you will see the care that they touch his things with. I put some of my hubbies things in my boot a month again I still cannot get to the charity shop but I am leaving them there because as they are not in their usual place they are slowly losing their meaning (makes sense to me lol).
I am sorry for your dilemma but it is a push forward for you, maybe hubby is saying be brave take a little step forward in the scheme of things he would want these things to go to someone that loved and where they will remind people of him but in the cupboard it’s only you and in the future events when you have passed people won’t know their meaning anymore, sorry I am always very pragmatic , no offence meant, I just try to see the bigger picture.
Take care x

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Sorry me again I meant to say in blunt terms what I would do.
I would burn the letters and give her what she asked for and as for his ex wife’s things I would also give her those that way you will have closure on this situation for now. Only give her the things she has asked for I wouldn’t be coherced into giving more than you are ready or want to give. X

I agree with silverlady. Those letters belong to two people that are not here. You have no idea what they say. It could be upsetting to the daughter. And I think they need to be destroyed. They are of no concern to anyone now. Secondly the daughter does need to have some keepsake items it’s the right thing to do as you know. So two choices. You take that first step and decide which items she has and that means gently going through his belongings maybe with a friend for moral support. Or you let her loose on his belongings. I think the first option would be better for you if I’m honest. Unless you are sure she would be treat his belongings with the utmost respect and thought

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Dear Silverlady and Jooles

Thanks so much for your considered and insightful responses. I’m really appreciative of you sharing your views.

Yes, there are two separate issues at play. He’s kept a lot of things that relate to his family history before he met me and these relate to his extended family as well so I’m thinking maybe his adult children would like them. Although she has only really asked for some handmade childhood games. It’s a truly valid point about the letters and I can see they have the ability to be harmful as what is known, can then bit be unknown. Maybe that proverbial “sleeping dog” is better not being woken up. It’s also difficult where emotions are concerned isn’t it, sometimes you need another’s view and I so grateful that you both replied. Thanks again.


Tina on a lighter note to make you smile, my hubby was with a lady for ten years broken up for two when I came along, they remained friends she has become a very good friend of mine, sorting out the attic I found holiday pictures of them (from 35 years ago) in some she only had half a swimsuit on! Like you what do I do and again because it’s her history not mine I was brave called her, her response was do my boobies look good, lol I said erm yes, she said oh good I will have them back, she was more embarrassed by her 80’s hair and make up, my point don’t over think things, do what’s right for you. X

Tina I think give them the keepsakes you have in mind. Keep those letters in the proverbial Pandora’s box and do not open. Lol.

Is there anyone that can sit with you while you sort through it. Play some music. Laugh cry have a tipple of your choice and take a deep breath. You can do it. X

On the flip side I found out thru a letter after the event that my dad wasn’t my biological Dad, it didn’t make any difference but I wish I had never known thru a letter I wish my Dad had of told me himself but it didn’t make any difference hence my comment before it depends on the content of the letters. X it’s a hard choice to make x

Please let it be the daughter choice if she wants to read the letters, they were her parents and if they had stayed together she would have seen them after they died anyway,
You sound like a lovely caring step mum and it would be hard for you if she ever found out you got rid of them

Take care xxx

Hello Tina, I found myself in a similar situation to yourself.
My husband has two daughters from his first marriage. Their mother died when they was young, yet they seemed indifferent to their father in the last year or two of his life and as his illness progressed, although they live locally. He tried to keep contact but gave up in the end and didn’t want to see either of them in his dying days. They have never been in touch with me since the funeral although I have written them friendly letters and made phone calls but never get a reply.
When I started sorting out his things I realised just how much of a hoarder he had been and when I went into the loft which I had never been in before in thirty years of marriage I found it full to capacity. Among the things was a case and boxes with paperwork/photographs from his past. Photo’s of him with other women, I presume his ex-wife among them.(He never showed me these photo’s). I also came across things relating to his daughters, old school reports/school books and their mother and father long before I came on the scene. His previous marriage certificate and divorce papers I found out things that I had never known about his past and there was even a diary of his ex-wife. I read some of it but had to stop as she was talking about MY husband. I boxed up everything that related to his daughters. Things that they had probably not known. I sent them a letter telling them I had these things but they never replied so I sent another and told them I would leave the box on my doorstep for them. It was collected this time. I felt they should have these things and be able to make a decision on what happened to them. I have never received a word from them since. I can’t quite understand what has happened as we all got on well for Thirty years.
All other paperwork and photographs I burnt and this really did upset me as I was burning his past. I would have laughed at seeing him with old girlfriends if he had been with me, I would have teased him, however alone on a cold winters day I was crying and yes, I even swore when I found a photo of him kissing a woman and threw it dramatically into the flames. How I cursed him for leaving me with all his past to sort through it just added to the heartbreak and knowing all this stuff had been in our house all those years. I feel better afterwards knowing it is now gone.

You must do what you feel comfortable with regarding his clothes. Amazingly I didn’t find this too hard but I did keep things and wear them myself. His rain coats, which he had many are useful at the moment. I did make the mistake of going into the charity shop where his clothes had gone to and seeing them. This really did upset me and I stupidly picked up one of his trainers and hugged it. Needless to say the tears came in abundance.
Best of luck whatever you decide.
Pat xx

Good Morning to Linda and Heart.
Thanks so much for your comments. I truly appreciate them. I really do wish I hadn’t become guardian of these letters. My Husband had them in his possession for practical reasons only and whilst his ex-wife was still “here” I could do what I do best and bury my head in the sand and pretend they weren’t there. Ever the procrastinator.
Like most things in life, things only reach a resolution when they are faced I suppose. Put emotions in the mix and it’s so much harder. Take care both of you and thanks again for your kindness.

Hello Pattidot.
Many thanks for your kindness in replying. I really appreciate what you have written.
It was the 36month anniversary of losing my Husband last week and you’d think I’d be in a more stable frame of mind about this but I’m not. His daughter is back in the UK next week and it’s also the first appointment for counselling as well so it’s not a good combination.
I’ve not been able to move back in our marital home yet since my loss and his things remain intact, in a way it’s as though he’s still “there” and dissecting his things feels like he won’t be “there” no longer. It’s like there has been two issues at play. I wish I’d never become the guardian of these letters. My Husband was looking after them for his ex-wife out of practicality. The letters would never have consciously come in my mind again but for hearing about my stepdaughter’s loss and her request. It’s difficult for any of us isn’t it when emotions are added to the equation. It’s helped to hear what you have said, and what the other kind people have said. I’m not really thinking straight right now and I feel sorry for this counselor I’ll be seeing next week, but that’s a whole different post! Thanks again Pattidot, have a peaceful weekend. (PS, I’m sorry to read about the charity shop incident, how unsettling for you. Oh the thing’s we experience that we’d never even think of at one time!). Tina

My only thinking of these letters is that in modern day times we no longer write we text, email Facebook etc. And I wouldn’t want my children reading through my messages with their dad. It’s private between us. It makes me shudder just thinking about it. There is that romantic notion of love letters between two people And giving them back to the daughter to read with love and nostalgia. but what if they are not like that?

Yes Tina we certainly do experience a whole new load of emotions. With two divorces behind me I thought that I could face up to anything, thought I was tough enough after the initial shock and missing him but I am struggling like I have never struggled before and I have been on my own before. Death of a loved one does rob you of so much of yourself. We are alive yet dead inside.
It was my own fault going into that charity shop, I should have kept away but when I saw one of his coats and then his trainers on a stand both as new it hit me so hard. What a stupid thing to do.
I hope you manage to come to a decision about the letters. I didn’t find letters, thank goodness, but quite a lot concerning custody of his daughters. When their mother died, Brian and his wife had parted and he was living in a one bedroom flat and as Social Services became involved they wouldn’t let him have his girls. I found out he bought this house to give them a home. His eldest daughter did live with him but not the youngest in the end. I had no idea if his daughters knew how hard he had fought to get them back and now know why he hated S.Services. It was all locked away in that case. I think if I had found letters I would have handed them over to his daughters. It’s a hard one. Good luck

If he hadn’t given them to her when he was alive,he had his reasons so I would say no.They Are your possessions now,so the decision is yours and no one else’s. Jill x

Hello Jooles45. I never got to grips with site really after the format changed so I haven’t dropped by for a while but I have tonight and I’m mortified that it doesn’t look as if I’d replied to you when you’d been kind enough to offer your thoughts.
My Husband’s daughter did visit and it wasn’t good. Further emotional damage ocurred and I’m not coping well as a result, in honesty I know it wasn’t intentional but logic often loses the battle when up against emotions doesn’t it. Thanks again Jooles for responding and take care.

Hello Jill
I’ve just seen your message as I’ve not used the forum for a while. I’d like to say thank you and that I’m sorry to have read about what’s happened. I hope you are managing to get by the best you can.
One day the letters will have to be dealt with but for now I’m doing what I do best and I’m avoiding the task of even thinking about them. Thanks again Jill for your comments, take care.