The Dilemma With Diaries and Love Letters

Do you keep a diary or journal?  Have you been writing in it for decades? Are your diaries hidden in a secret spot or placed out in the open easily visible to others?

Are all of your inner most personal thoughts, feelings, secrets, and descriptive stories of both heartache and accomplishments laid bare inside those hand written pages?

Do you worry about (or have you ever thought about) what happens to your diaries when you die?


Those questions may have raised an eyebrow or two.  Did you suddenly develop a feeling of panic rising from the depths of your soul? Or maybe you don’t really care who reads them after you are dead and gone.

Oprah Winfrey has kept a journal since she was a teenager. Recently, Oprah was asked in a law suit to turn over her personal and professional diaries as “evidence” for discovery purposes. Luckily, a Judge agreed that she need not turn over her journals. But this story rings loud and clear that your written words may be subject to unwanted access at some point in  your life (and death). You may wish to take that exposure into consideration when planning for what happens to your personal items when you die.

Other treasured items, such as boxes of love letters, are often kept for years and years in attics and other hidden spaces.

Are you someone who stores piles of old love letters?

The dilemma of a journal writer or a keeper of love letters is that you either must destroy them before you die ( so no one has the chance to reveal your secrets), or keep them safe for your loved ones to enjoy reading all about you.  Most of the time, there are words written that perhaps are better off not read by others. So is it a welcome opportunity to have your loved ones learn more about you, or will disclosing the content create more problems in the end?

Whether you have journals or boxes of love notes, what’s the plan?

Have you, or do you intend to:

  • clearly communicate who will be the recipient of your diaries and/or love letters
  • tell someone where your diaries and love letters are located if hidden from view
  • leave instructions to a trusted person to have your diaries  or love letters destroyed when you die
  • plan to have your diaries  or love letters published (this does happen!) or donated for whatever reason

I used to write every night in a brightly colored fabric covered diary as a teenager in high school.  Keeping a diary was a popular activity.

I also kept a box of “love letters” for many years.  I honestly don’t remember when or why I decided to toss those personal items out, but I did. And while I sometimes think it would be great fun to read the words I wrote about my life as a teen again, I am, quite honestly, glad I don’t have the dilemma of what to do about them now.

Share with me your stories about why you have kept your diary or love letters and what you plan to do about them when the inevitable happens.