“What Secret Was Revealed When Cleaning Out The Home Of A Deceased Family Member?” (40 Answers)

Published 5 months ago

There is one discussion that I’ve had with friends about how if something happens to me, they need to run to my place and clean out any unnecessary stuff. We’ll not go into details, but am sure there are things we all hide from our families that they just don’t need to know about. 

Recently, members of the u/WhoAllIll subreddit discussed the secrets they have found out accidentally while cleaning out a deceased family member’s things. Netizens shared the most interesting stories covering everything from funny to weird to shocking as you can see in the gallery below. 

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#1 Grandpa did drawings of the faces of the people he killed in WW2. Nobody knows why but my grandma said he had a lot of guilt over the things he saw so my guess is he didn’t want to forget them or didn’t feel like he should be allowed to forget them.

Image source: Reckless_Pixel, Valeria Strogoteanu


Image source: miss_trixie, Suzy Hazelwood

This isn’t ‘cleaning out their home’, but when my husband died a few years ago i found several notes/letters he had scattered in various places around our home, written to me in advance (he had terminal cancer & knew he was dying). some were marked ‘open when you can’t stop crying’ ‘open when the holidays are too rough’ ‘open when you have to put one of the cats to sleep’.

they didn’t contain any secrets but they are heartbreakingly beautiful.

#3 My dad was in hospice at home for a couple months before he died of lung cancer, and when I went to clean out his house I found that he had already sorted and packed away most of his personal treasures in couple storage bins. It was heartbreaking all over again thinking of him sitting there packing up his own life knowing it was coming to an end.

Image source: F0regn_Lawns, DoubleXz94

#4 My step-grandma had been married 5 more times than she told my grandpa she had been. He was her 9th husband, not her 4th

Image source: UltraCuteOfDeath, Jeremy Wong Weddings

#5 Food from 1970. They died in 2006.

Image source: JadwigaNelms, Kate Trifo

#6 We all knew this one uncle had a second family. We expected drama at the funeral. No one was expecting his third family to show up. Wife. Three kids. This new family knew the rest of the family by name from pictures. How we are all related, names, hobbies. That was a wildly bizarre experience.

Image source: z-adventure, Pavel Danilyuk

#7 I, as a joke once, made thong underwear on a merch website with my cats face on them and my signature. The description just said “so you can wear my pussy on your pussy.” My friends found this hilarious and bought them up of course. I got numerous Snapchats of thong photos for a while…

We forgot about this for years.

My best friend passed away in a motorcycle accident last year. His family called me while cleaning out his house a month or so after… they were wondering why they found thongs with my signature in his closet.

I never thought I’d have to explain that one. Luckily, they thought it was incredible and we all shared some good laughs. ?

Image source: ThatOneSlut

#8 Mine was confirmation of a wild story. My grandfather served in Korea, for years there was a tall tale about how he won a “house” in Korea, (unsure how to phrase this politely online) that it included the family who owned it and essentially anyone who worked there in a game of poker. That when he returned home, after a few years of receiving letters and small payments my grand mother told him to give the ownership back the the family.

I don’t think anyone really believed him when the story was told, over and over again, my grand mother died when I was young so couldn’t ask her if it was true.

When he passed away and we were cleaning out the house, we found the letters from the family and the letter from the lawyer gramps used to officially return ownership.

My grandpa owned a pleasure house in Korea, is a sentence that’s hard to say.

Image source: Humble-Ad-2713


Image source: lorettadion, sue hughes

I’m African American and my husband is white. My father faced a lot of prejudice during his lifetime and I was terrified of telling him that the ‘white guy’ I’d been on a date or two with I was getting serious with. The first time I brought my now husband home, my dad was courteous but distant. Miraculously, by the second time my father literally gushed all over my husband. Even my siblings were shocked. When we got married, he was beaming. It was odd, but I was just happy my husband had won him over.

My mom died in 2014 and my father in 2021. When my siblings and I went to clean out the house, in his safe along with other important documents, we found letters that my husband had written to my father 24 years before about how he felt about me, how he was serious about his relationship with me, how he was planning to go to law school (he did, he’s an attorney now) how he respected that he’d gone through so much in his lifetime, and eventually how he loved me and how with his blessing, he was going to propose. My husband never told me he’d written my father and my father never told me he’d been corresponding with my husband. It was so emotional finding those. I still tear up when I think about it. When I got home, my husband finally showed me the letters my father had written back.

#10 Cleaning out my grandpa’s apartment we found different pieces of a handgun scattered around. He struggled on and off with depression, and apparently, he did it so that if he was thinking about taking his life, he would have to go find all the parts and give himself time to talk himself out of it.

Image source: MaryTWilliamsa, Damir Samatkulov

#11 My mother and her siblings found a still in my 91 yr old great grandmothers cellar. She always grew a huge potato crop. My little old Polish great-grandmother was making vodka apparently.

Image source: tdm1742, Marco Antonio Victorino

#12 My 97 year old uncle had a very decent pot stash and pipe collection.

Image source: cupcakepnw, CHUTTERSNAP


Image source: cl0ckw0rkman, Mari Helin

I’m a huge dorkus. Have worked in three comic shops. Have a huge collection. When the gf that would eventually become the wife and I moved into a house together, She flipped her s**t about how many long boxes of comics I had and the space they took up. Sports cards and binders of other non-sports cards… huge Magic the Gathering collection as well. We lived in that house for six years. Me and the son moved out after she passed away. As I was going through the closet my comics and binders of cards where in I found two small boxes that were NOT MINE… I found her collection of Pokémon cards and a full set of Nightmare Before Christmas cards. With her hand written notes on the set list. She had added her small collection of books to mine without me even knowing.

My wife was a secret nerd.

#14 My parents were getting back together.

Image source: Flashy_Photo_5613, Anna Shvets

Dad died at 50 of a heart attack, mom was devastated. Her health declined rapidly and she died at 49 three months later. I cleaned out both their homes and found calls, texts, and love letters. They wanted to be together again but didn’t want to put their kids and grandkids through a reconciliation until they were confident it’d work out.

I knew she’d be devastated, they had been together almost thirty years, but they were two years divorced and casually seeing other people. They seemed to be thriving apart. So it was a shock when the grief was so strong that it took all the life out of her. She died of cancer, but the doctor also diagnosed her with Failure to Thrive brought on by the loss of my dad, and said that it may have been possible for her to live longer and even receive treatment if the Failure to Thrive hadn’t taken everything she was before her cancer diagnosis.

The only thing worse than losing my dad was watching my mom live without him, so at the end of the day, I’m grateful she didn’t live without him for long. She never would have had peace here again. She found her peace with him on the other side.

#15 We knew my originally British, naturalized Canadian great-grandmother had been an enthusiastic amateur historian, who had been fascinated by Britain’s war with Napoleon – not for the least reason because she was herself tangentially related to the Duke of Wellington’s family, via a cousin’s marriage to his son’s nephew, or some connection equally obscure and tenuous.

What we *didn’t* know is that, likely in preparation for a book she never wrote, as a young woman she had actually interviewed several dozen elderly English, French and Spanish veterans about their experiences during that war – including three actual survivors of Waterloo (two English, one French), and an aide-de-camp to Spanish General Francisco Javier Castaños, at the time he handed the Napoleonic army its very first defeat in the field, and captured nearly 20,000 French troops at the Battle of Bailen (1808).

But there it was, stored in a wooden egg crate under her iron-framed bed, among old calendars, untested recipe clippings and copies of *Family Circle* magazine: a manuscript with nearly three hundred pages of transcribed military memoirs – all laid out in three languages (in which she was fluent) in her elegant, Spencerian hand.

My parents donated her manuscript to the Imperial War Museum, where no doubt it will never have human eyes laid on it again.

Image source: theartfulcodger

#16 I had a falling out with my father when I was 21. Fast forward 18 years when died, and I found stacks of pictures, notes, and articles about me. My stepmom said he was always proud of me, and didn’t know how to say he was sorry.

Image source: TheBarnacle63

#17 My grandpa died when he was 80 – his wife died 21 years before him she was only 55. He never really got over it.

Image source: Suspicious-Lobster-4, Mikhail Nilov

When we were cleaning up his stuff we found an old simple birthday card written by my grandma for my grandpa a couple months before she died. On the back of the card, there were 21 lines written in pencil. Each year, my grandpa would write on the back of the card the date and the year of his new birthday. With a different small note beside it each year. Like, “miss you terribly this time”, or “you would have liked the weather today”.

All up to his last birthday. Broke my heart. The greatest love I’ve ever witnessed.

#18 A diary with only a few entries from my uncle who lived alone. One of the entries was about how sad he was to have never met anyone or had children and how lonely he was. Broke my heart.

Image source: abybacb, JESHOOTS.COM

#19 Grandmother climbed Mt. Rainier, in WA, in a woolen skirt. Summit and all.

Image source: perfidity, Caleb Riston


Image source: Mzunguman, Karolina Grabowska

That my dad hid money all over the house, not huge amounts mind you, but $60 here, $120 there. Felt like a bit of a scavenger hunt when we were cleaning out his stuff. He was always a bit of a sneakily generous guy, always gave me and my brothers a secret handshake with money tucked in his palm when we’d go back to school after a weekend home, etc, so wouldn’t be surprised if he’d done it intentionally. Made us smile every time we found some, iirc I think the final total was somewhere around $800.


Image source: Dangerous_Elk_6627, United States Department of Energy

Grandfather worked on the Manhattan Project as a master machinist. We didn’t know until he passed away in 1993 when we found various specifications and directives written to him by Oppenheimer, Fermi, Teller and General Groves.

We all secretly knew he had thousands of dollars in cash hidden in his house. What we didn’t know was how much and that each of us knew of different stashes. The one I knew about had about $9800. While cleaning out his house we discovered a total of $160,000+ . It was a helluva Easter egg hunt.

#22 Not mine, but happened in my old neighbourhood: some old dude died of cancer, his daughter and her boyfriend cleaned out a garage he was renting and found human body parts. The police got involved and it was revealed that the guy was a serial killer who murdered at least five women, though the exact number of his victims is unknown.

Image source: queerfromthemadhouse, Rosemary Ketchum

#23 Note to self … sell dragon dildo collection before dying…

Image source: zombieblackbird

#24 Cleaning out my grandparent’s house after they passed away…

We found a booklet on sexual anatomy, a penis eraser, a penis that my grandma had crocheted and there were walnuts in the “nut sack”, and a drawing my grandpa did of my grandma wearing nothing but a feather boa.

Image source: JannaWing

#25 My dad kept a handwritten note in his wallet containing my mom’s old address, phone number, and directions to her house from when they first started dating in the 70s. He had moved it from wallet to wallet over the years. ❤️ He just died this past March and that was one of the first things we found.

Image source: Jinx5326, Lukas

#26 Nan was rich af. She left 90% of her money to a dog charity. Didn’t bother me but my cousins still haven’t got over it.

Image source: TravisInLondon, Matt Nelson

#27 Found my grandparents wedding certificate, which didn’t match the date everyone else had. Their ‘original’ date was 9 months before my aunt was born. The certificate was dated about 5 months before she was born.

Image source: TheLastMongo, Abbey Chapman

#28 My nan had about a platoon’s worth of American servicemen photos tucked away…

Image source: Conscript11, Suzy Hazelwood


Image source: rolandblais, Mari Helin

My dad passed away in 1994 (I was 28). While going through his safe I found some adoption papers. While reading through them I got excited at the prospect I might have a brother out there somewhere (I was raised as an only child) but couldn’t understand why my parents never told me that they’d adopted a child but never told me. After rereading them, I realized that they papers were about me. After confronting my family about this turns out everyone – family, close friends, I mean everyone, knew I was adopted. Except me. That was a fun day.

#30 My grandmother was secretly using medical marijuana. She asked me to help her get her card, and I took her to the dispensary when she wanted to go. The rest of the family found out when she passed away whn they found some edibles in her nightstand. Miss Her everyday.

Image source: ootenworpin, Stephen Hocking

#31 That the city paid my mother $2,400 for the wrongful death of my father in 1979.

Image source: DefectiveBlanket, Giorgio Trovato

#32 Many years ago I went with my dad and aunt to clean out my great uncle’s apartment after he passed away. He was never married, no kids, and lived (we thought) very poor. Tiny apartment with a twin bed, table and chair, a couple of pots and pans, a couple pants& shirts, and that’s basically it.

As we stripped the bed and moved the mattress, we were shocked. He had hundreds of stacks of 10 dollar bills, wrapped in rubber bands, under his mattress. They were all 10 dollar bills. He lived during the Depression and didn’t trust banks, apparently, but we had no idea he had so much cash. He never spent it on anything. Just bundled it and saved it under his mattress. Some of the bills were so old and yellowed. It equaled thousands of dollars. We had no idea.

Image source: Sostupid246

#33 My uncle didn’t die of brain cancer which was communicated to the family. He died of HIV. He was gay, he was madly in love with his partner, and because his immediate family his partner was not allowed in the hospital to say goodbye. I inherited some of my uncle’s things. In it was a large stack of love letters from his partner. They were so in love, and hid it from everyone. It hurts.

Image source: RelativeDatabase, Rhodi Lopez

#34 My brother found giant pickle jars of coins, mostly pennies, in our grandpas garage. Turned it into cash and it was nearly 400 dollars. He took everyone helping clean that day to my grandpas favorite restaurant for dinner. ?

Image source: Pristine_Frame_2066, Towfiqu barbhuiya

#35 I found a hidden 38 revolver in my late stepfather’s bookshelf. Every bullet in the gun had the name Steve written in sharpie. No one had ever heard of him.

Image source: natronmooretron, Velizar Ivanov

#36 After my Grandfather died, I asked my Dad to quietly go through his Dad’s bedroom while I took my Grandmother out to lunch. I explained that GrandDad might have racy magazines about, that would be upsetting to GrandMa if she found them. So just, be a good son and save your Mom from that.

Image source: TruCelt, Miray Bostancı

When we got back, my Dad was nearly hysterical, half laughing, half barfing, and pulled me into the garage to debrief. Apparently, my Grandfather was exactly the devout Catholic that he had appeared to be. And what my poor father had found in the bedside table was a stack of cheesecake pictures – of his own mother.

#37 Elderly aunt had a hidden room with staircase to basement area no one knew about. She and her son had a meth lab. This was in the 90’s in Philly. Blew us all away.

Image source: pekepeeps, Nicholas Santoianni

#38 We found a box containing an old KKK robe in my grandpas closet after he passed. Apparently my great grandfather (his father) was a member of the Klan. So that’s a fun little snippet of family history we had absolutely no knowledge of. I believe my uncle took the robe and burned it.

Image source: oksweetheart

#39 A family friend (50s) was moving stuff from his mothers storage locker after she passed,opened a box of documents and inside was his adoption papers HE WAS ADOPTED!!! TURNS OUT his aunt who is significantly younger had a teen pregnancy and to avoid controversy at the time the newly married older sister just adopted him.

Image source: shawn292

#40 They found out my Grandmother lied about her age to her second husband. Keep in mind this was the 1940s. Her age on her marriage license was 6 years younger than she actually was.

Image source: Caspers_Shadow, Ethan Wilkinson

Shanilou Perera

Shanilou has always loved reading and learning about the world we live in. While she enjoys fictional books and stories just as much, since childhood she was especially fascinated by encyclopaedias and strangely enough, self-help books. As a kid, she spent most of her time consuming as much knowledge as she could get her hands on and could always be found at the library. Now, she still enjoys finding out about all the amazing things that surround us in our day-to-day lives and is blessed to be able to write about them to share with the whole world as a profession.

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