Asking for some outsider common sense advice to a conundrum I’m too close to. I can’t say I’ll take it, but it will give me food for thought that might help.
First some background: I was mom’s least favorite child, she also loved me and was a wonderful person, we had a good relationship. I’m also the only one who turned out okay, the one she turned to in her latter years for advice, help. Mom knew (and told me) I would be the one to go through everything, make all the decisions about her personal possessions. She also knew a couple of years in advance that she was dying.
Mom left all of her diaries in one box. I looked through them briefly and the diaries are a biographical timeline versus a private diary of feelings, but feelings also narrate the words we use. I made the decision to bring them home. The other day I needed to go through them to find an answer for another relative. I scanned the entries for that year looking for a specific name instead of reading anything. I then boxed them up and put them back away.
I’d decided to keep the diaries because they are a trove of information spanning decades that details the events in the family, the extended family, who did what, and when. I also don’t want to read them because I wasn’t her favorite child, and despite trying not to, it showed. I’m afraid to read them, I’m worried if I will read them, they’ll show more of her feelings she tried hard not to show in daily life, and how that will affect me.
What would you do based on the following answers I’ve thought as possible outcomes.
Suck it up, read them and deal with any hard parts by carrying on like you always do, sort of face it head on and get it over with. Then you can weave stories into the family trees to show who the people are, what they did in their personal lives, not just historical facts.
Destroy them and feel guilty: when someone asks a question you can’t answer; for destroying your mom’s diaries instead of keeping them in her honor; for the biographical genealogical history of two different family lines that could have been put into the family trees to make them more personal.
Keep them and scan for answers if needed, but swear to never read them in-depth and forget any idea of putting that level of detail into the family tree.