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Advice from Dear Webby
Skeletons in Deceased Father's Closet

Dear Webby,

My father passed away recently. In going through his personal effects I found some items that would be called "skeletons in his closet." Should I tell my mother and siblings or let it go?


Dear Disillusioned,

Indeed you should be upset if you really did find skeletons. Leave the bones alone and call the police. Shame on Webby. I'm sure you are not in the mood for levity.

Are these items about your dad or about long gone ancestors? The fact that you use the plural makes me wonder how much you found out.

If you had a gun fighter or prostitute in the family many decades ago and no one would be hurt to find this out, definitely tell them. It might be interesting to know and no one would be hurt. Would you want to be informed if your sibling found out the same information?

If on the other hand your father did something that he wouldn't be proud of or would ruin the happy memories of him, keep the secret. That is unless it is something that by telling, someone could be helped or released of blame. You have to weigh the information and the consequences.

Maybe it is something he would have liked to have his family know but didn't have the courage to tell and that is why the information is still there. On the other hand, perhaps he forgot it was there and wasn't planning on dying yet.

Without knowing your father or what it is you found it is hard to counsel you. The important thing is to think about the living. If it will help them in anyway, I would suggest you share the information. If not, decide what, if anything, would be gained by telling.

You know your father. Hopefully he was a good husband and father who maybe made one mistake. You can give him the gift of love and compassion by destroying the information.

However if he was an evil man that no one liked... Well that's up to you. But don't bring pain to the living to try and extract revenge from the dead.

Webby is sure that you, in your wisdom and kindness, will weigh all the options.

Good luck,


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