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Talking to your children/spouse from the grave

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  • Talking to your children/spouse from the grave

    I read PoF's post I see dead people last year after hearing similar news of a colleague meeting an untimely demise.  The lesson, at least as I took it, was to insure yourself properly, reach FI faster since it buys you the most important thing in life (time - with loved ones), and live life to its fullest.  I fully agree with those concepts.  But what if you do meet an untimely end?  Sure, you've protected your family financially but they don't have you.  Your kids don't have your guidance at that point, which can be more valuable than money.

    Has anyone considered writing notes to their kids in the event of your passing, describing all you've learned and would like to impart regarding various aspects of life (what to look for in a spouse, considering a major in college, living a moral life, what to expect when they have kids, etc.).  I've heard of people setting up email addresses for their kids and writing them emails every now and then to the account you created for them and then giving them the account later in life.  Curious to hear about any thoughts on this concept or interesting ideas.  Thanks!

  • #2
    Interesting ideas....

    I've just purchased the book PoF recommended to get everything in order (online manual... haven't started as I was waiting to be able to edit online) and that is a spot you could put these letters/emails.

    Little morbid but I like the thought that I'd be with them even when I wasn't.

     

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    • #3
      On the list of things to do now that I am retired.  There are journal like books that one can buy to leave to your children or grandchildren that tell them about you.  https://www.amazon.com/My-Grandchild-Grandparents-Gift-Memory/dp/1454927097/ref=pd_sim_14_6?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=1454927097&pd_rd_r=ef141014-9b92-11e8-9945-33025940dd40&pd_rd_w=SJQaS&pd_rd_wg=8dPdD&pf_rd_i=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_p=2610440344683357453&pf_rd_r=MBV09PEHM5A2D4E1M1D9&pf_rd_s=desktop-dp-sims&pf_rd_t=40701&psc=1&refRID=MBV09PEHM5A2D4E1M1D9 My father left me one and I wish he had written more in it.  He was a man of few words.  The kids are lucky these days with their phone cameras and the cloud.  I remind them to take lots of pictures and videos and try to impress on them how they will come to cherish them as they age.  I wish I had done videos for them when they were young.  I once (maybe 1994 or so) dictated a running commentary of a week in my life as an attending so that they would have some idea of what I did.  I was an academic at the time and it was a call week so it was pretty impressive (or depressing depending on your viewpoint).  My then secretary transcribed it and I have it tucked away on the original tape, a 3.5" floppy with a WP 5.0 .wpd (lol) and a paper copy.  We also try to preserve all of the pictures and video we have but it can be difficult with all of the format changes over the years.

      There is this more practical book as well. https://www.amazon.com/Important-Information-Belongings-Business-Affairs/dp/1441317996/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1533791428&sr=8-1&keywords=so+i%27m+dead%2C+now+what+book&dpID=61MGI7PjVSL&preST=_SX218_BO1,204,203,200_QL40_&dpSrc=srch

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      • #4
        I've started writing an annual birthday letter to each of my young sons - filled with observations about them over the past year and whatever pearls I have.  I'm filing them away, unread,  and plan to give the whole lot to them in the future when...they go to college? Get married?  Something momentous like that.  We'll see how that goes.

         

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        • #5
          My dad died relatively young, and I have wished I had something in writing from him.  We had a good relationship and had many good talks towards the end of his life.  My remembrances of his words are just poor enough that I lament not having something with more permanence.

          I have a small leather journal for each of my kids.  I write in each not more than a few times per year, beginning on or around the day of their birth.  The writing is a combination of an accounting of what they are doing in life (developmental milestones, interests, preferences), a retelling of our family adventures, examples of especially hilarious or meaningful things they have said or done, an introduction to recent ancestors (ie my dad) that they will never meet or at least not meaningfully remember, my assurance of the great joy I take in them and love I have for them, my reflection/assessment/pride in them as people, my warnings and counsel for their lives as I consider the trouble towards which each of their personalities might predispose them, pearls of what I hope to be wisdom.  In sum, it's what I wish I had from my dad.

          My hope is to give the journal to each as they transition to adulthood.

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          • #6
            I wish I had written letters to my children when they were younger, but time got away from me. Or perhaps it was too hard to start. But it’s never too late and maybe I should start.

            This has been on my to-do list for a while.

            The way I would frame it is a letter to each child when they turn 18, when they finish college, when they get married and when they have their first child. Which they will get whether I am alive or not.

            I remember listening to a focus on the family podcast on it. Someone started a movement around 2000 called ‘letters from Dad’.
            https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/cr/1591453828/ref=mw_dp_cr
            https://www.grace101.org/lfd.htm

            The idea is to write letters to your loved ones that you refine over time, that they can internalise about your love for them as a father.

            I think the somewhat creepy thing about letters from the grave is that if they are somewhat control freaks they may resent that. I would leave it open, as if you had written it without knowing whether you would be there when they are reading it. But that you are as good as there with them.

            Often one of the hardest things about grief is feeling like you were not ready to say goodbye. They may be angry with you dying if you die prematurely. I would avoided d making it in any way a goodbye letter. It would be as if I was there with them. But maybe that is because I still have young children.

            Letters can be very powerful if one of your children’s primary love language is words of affirmation.

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            • #7
              My son is almost 2years old and I did the email thing. We created an email when he was born (we had to say he was >13yo to get an account or put it in my name...can't remember) and gave the email address to family members. A bunch of people emailed in the beginning welcoming him to the world. Now, emails usually just come from me and my wife. Gotta love technology!

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              • #8
                there's a book about the owner of the Baltimore ravens, I think it was authored by john Feinstein, and the owner of the ravens lost his father as a child.  there was a letter the dad penned, and it is included in the book and it made me reflect on myself and realize I was a big fat selfish loser.  the letter showed remarkeable insight and forethought.  it inspired me to try to write something to my kids.  I was reminded I'm a terrible writer.  but I have nice handwriting and I like the feel of a nice pen as it scratches through nice paper, so I have an ongoing journal for each kid for just in case.  they may never care to read it, but it's there for them.

                probably they will think I'm crazy and man I wish I could write as well as some of you guys, but to answer the question-yes I do.  I have some videos stored on the computer as well.  I am itemizing them in that mama fish 'you are dead, now what about the rest of us' e-book/PDF that POF encouraged us to buy.  it's nice to have an organized collection of stuff.

                I don't provide so much financial guidance because I think the future is so hard to predict, but I do caution my impulsive son to be thoughtful and I encourage my cautious saver son to live his life.  I am reevaluating my use of wills and trusts as I am reflect on the wisdom of alextt.

                appreciate so much everyone's contributions to the forum.

                 

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                • #9
                  My mother died when I was 24.  One thing that I found when I went through her papers was an essay she wrote at age 16 or 17.  I treasure this document.

                  My father started telling me about WWII battles that he fought in a few months before he died.  I thought about recording the conversations but I did not do it and I regret this.

                  My office staff at my retirement party handed me a journal with various people talking about how I influenced them.  I was really touched by this.  Another idea if you know someone retiring.

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                  • #10


                    My son is almost 2years old and I did the email thing. We created an email when he was born (we had to say he was >13yo to get an account or put it in my name…can’t remember) and gave the email address to family members. A bunch of people emailed in the beginning welcoming him to the world. Now, emails usually just come from me and my wife. Gotta love technology!
                    Click to expand...


                    That's a great idea! I wish I had done that.  I  suggest that you print all the emails out on paper and store them separately, and also copy to a thumb drive.  Email accounts can disappear due to any number of reasons.  Companies go belly up, etc.

                    I videotaped interviews with my dad just before he died, and later of my mom.   Unfortunately, they were both already older, and were not as I remembered them from when I was growing up, but it's something my kids will have so they can meet their grandfather and remember their grandmother.

                    I made a videotape of myself for my kids before the first one was born.  I need to update it.

                    I had planned on making annual birthday tapes with each child but they haven't been cooperative.

                    I think I'll start writing letters to each child now and save them for when they will be older.


                    I have a small leather journal for each of my kids.  I write in each not more than a few times per year, beginning on or around the day of their birth.  The writing is a combination of an accounting of what they are doing in life (developmental milestones, interests, preferences), a retelling of our family adventures, examples of especially hilarious or meaningful things they have said or done, an introduction to recent ancestors (ie my dad) that they will never meet or at least not meaningfully remember, my assurance of the great joy I take in them and love I have for them, my reflection/assessment/pride in them as people, my warnings and counsel for their lives as I consider the trouble towards which each of their personalities might predispose them, pearls of what I hope to be wisdom.  In sum, it’s what I wish I had from my dad. My hope is to give the journal to each as they transition to adulthood.
                    Click to expand...


                    This is a wonderful idea!  Thank you so much.  I'm going to start doing this today.  I'm sorry I wasn't doing it their whole lives.

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