We’ve explained before the how’s and why’s of eliminating the skeletons from people’s closets after they die. But that doesn’t stop computers from being handed down (or pawned off) with hard drives filled with sad material that's way too personal.
A popular AskReddit thread once asked people to share some of the things they’ve uncovered on the computers of the deceased. Once you filter out all the adult-based findings -- So. Much. Porn -- you learn that a computer can offer a message or lesson from beyond, become a window into a person’s soul, or act as a warning for something you would never want to happen to you. It’ll also make you think about what you have on your machines right now, and if it’s time to do a little digital housekeeping yourself.
Sweet, Thoughtful Grandpa
When my grandfather passed away I was asked to go through his computer and save anything valuable. There were heaps of letters and photos dedicated to all his children and grandchildren. I even found a speech he would say at my 21st. I'm only 18.
You’re Gonna Regret The Things You Don’t Do
A few months after my wife passed away suddenly, I finally got around to cleaning out her PC and laptop. I'd barely gotten started when I came across a file that had its file associations removed. She did all the financial stuff, so I had to find out if it was something important. Of course my first try was Word document, and sure enough it loaded up.
Yeah, it wasn't financial. Turns out she'd written a list of lifetime goals that she wanted to reach, and it had been updated only weeks before she passed. A list of about 30 things she'd dreamed of doing, and only about 4 or 5 were crossed off.
I didn't get much done after that.
My father died a few years ago from colon cancer. Even though I was only 19, my brother was significantly younger when we lost him (he was 7).
My father and brother would watch a movie usually every other night, and a few months ago I finally got around to cleaning up his computer. I looked through his folder where he downloaded movies to, and the last film he downloaded was Spirited Away. And it was the night before he passed away.
Needless to say, we watched it together that night.
Warning: Things Are About To Get Very Sad
My best friend's machine, the usually cluttered desktop given way to a single, untitled text document. It was his suicide note.
Was tasked by a friend of a parent to wipe a computer that belonged to his son who committed suicide. I could have just wiped it, but a morbid curiosity and a feeling I was 'erasing' the last of this person drove me to first delve into the files. What I found was essentially a diary of the son's last days, including his very last, which had been typed just minutes before he ended his life. There was something profound in reading those notes, knowing I am the only one who will ever know his last thoughts. I don't really regret or wish I hadn't seen what I did. The last time I shared this experience I was made to feel guilty for invading the dead son's privacy. I still feel a little guilty for that, but I'm still glad I did so. The kid needed someone to listen to him, and well, even though it was too late, someone did. It's just a shame it couldn't have been earlier.
My boss passed away in his sleep just over a year ago. He was young, and it was unexpected.
I helped his boss get into his computer at work, and also his laptop from home to retrieve insurance, banking, investment, etc. information for my boss's family.
It was very eerie, in that I found my boss had a lot of the same tastes in music, tv shows, movies, etc. that I had, visited the same websites, etc. I felt like he and I could have become much better friends if there'd been more time.
After my dad died we found a bunch of pictures of a kid who looked a lot like my younger brother. After some digging around we found out my dad had an affair with some married lady about 12 years prior. She got pregnant and the boy is being raised by her husband as their son. My understanding of the situation is that the boy has no idea about my dad. My brothers and I discussed whether or not we were going to tell him and we decided it was best to let the kid be raised by his parents without him knowing.
This might be a good time to learn about something called an Ethical Will. Since your actual Will becomes part of public record, it’s not the best place to disclose major secrets. An Ethical Will doesn’t have any legal bearing at all, but it can communicate personal beliefs and aspects of your life you’d only want to share with select family members without it becoming part of any public record.
Gotta Catch ‘Em All (And By “‘Em” We Mean “Tears”)
My girlfriend and I used to play pokemon a lot. I still do actually. But she passed away in a car accident a year ago. One day I opened one of her games up cause I was feeling down, and I noticed her main player was named after me, and all her pokemon were nicknamed after pet names we gave to each other. The thing is, I did the exact same thing in my game, but we never told each other.
That’s Just Plain Mean
When my grandfather passed away, we were going through his computer to save off important things. We mostly saved off genealogy information, but found one very strange item.
My grandfather had written a book/thesis on how much he hated my grandmother. It was about 150 pages long, had a table of contents, and all sorts of hate filled stories and anecdotes.
My dad shared it with one of his brothers, and they waited about 5 years before showing it to my grandmother. I'm still not 100% certain that she ever needed to know about that book. One of my family members printed it out and mailed it to all of my aunts and uncles. (My dad is one of 7). It was a huge drama fest for years. It seems to have died down lately though.
If Grandma Is Still Around, Call Her Right Now!
My grandmother recently passed away and she had an iPad to use as a bible (she had bad eyesight and could only read in Korean). She also wrote little diary notes in there from time to time. She had been really sick for all of my life (I'm in my 20s) and she lived about a 40 minute drive away from us. On occasion she'd send me emails from the iPad and I responded a few times, but not as often as she'd send them. And then she stopped sending me emails about a year ago.
When I was looking through her notes some of them were about how she wondered if I got her emails and why I wasn't replying. One line that got me was when she said "I know I shouldn't be looking forward to her replying but I still am hoping a little."
I hadn't really cried after she passed away until that point because I was happy for her that she could finally, truly rest in peace and not have to suffer anymore. But I wish I could go back and just f**king reply to her emails.