Letters From The Grave

In the movie “My Life”, Michael Keaton starts a video journal for his unborn child when he learns he had a terminal illness. We watch as he records messages to be played at a later time – presumably from the grave after he’s gone.

I think a lot about death and dying. Not to the point that it consumes me, but having lost a parent at a young age and being a mom to three, the thought does cross my mind from time to time.

These days, when friends call me with big news, I usually hold my breath – not knowing what it’s going to be. Most of us are past the “I’m ENGAGED!!” or “I’m PREGNANT!!” news, so the odds that they’re calling with good news has decreased significantly over the years.  As I wait for them to tell me, I make a silent checklist of all the things that I hope it’s not:

  1. Divorce
  2. Parental death
  3. Disease

And if the news turns out to be one of those 3, no offense but I’m hoping for divorce.

Anyway.. back to my musings over death. Like Keaton’s character in My Life, I’ve thought about what I would do if I were diagnosed with a terminal illness and if it would be something similar to what he did.

  • Would I buy out the Hallmark store, prepare cards and fill the vault for each of the girls future life events? Sweet 16, Drunken 21, the big 4-0?
  • Would I buy a wedding card and sentimental gift to be given to them on their wedding day?
  • Would I record a video giving them the motherly advice that I was missing out on?
  • Would I buy gifts for the next 20 years of holidays and store them someplace like Laura Linney’s character in The Big C?
  • Would I write journal after journal and try to hit all the possible wonderful and horrible scenarios they may go thru in life and how to best deal with it?

But would I actually do them? I don’t know.

As soon as I think that I would, I immediately wonder if it would freak them out.. letters from the grave. Of course, I wouldn’t be here to worry about their reaction – unless my recycle date was quicker than normal and I ended up being a flower girl at the wedding. But isn’t that just like a typical mom? Not only do we worry about our time here but we worry about our time when we’re NOT here, too.

The only thing that I DO know is that with my 45th birthday coming next month, I know that I’m in the 2nd half of my life so I try to go thru my day and really live each day.. let the small stuff roll off my back and weigh the bigger stuff on a date scale. You know the date scale – “will I even remember this event or worry this time next year?” and if the answer is no, let it go into the small stuff category.

What about you? What would you do? Have you thought much about it? Am I completely morbid for considering it?






  1. I think things change when we become parents (understatement of the year) we think of how life will be for our children when we are gone. The desire to leave something of ourselves is not only normal, but beautiful. You may enjoy a video from a child (an adult now) who received some ‘letters from the grave’ from her deceased father. Check it out below:
    Barb recently posted..legacy of lettersMy Profile

  2. I don’t find it morbid at all. I am 45 and although I don’t feel old on the inside, I know that things aren’t working the same as they used to physically. Our bodies break down, sometimes we get sick. It’s kind of a crap shoot. I would like for my kids, especially my daughter, to be able to see me and hear my voice but I wouldn’t want to cause them additional pain. I think I would leave a video for each of them just so they would remember what I looked like and how I sounded and I’d be able to tell them how much I love them. I guess unless you’re actually faced with the situation, there’s no way to tell what you would do. But my guess is , you figure it out.
    Sandy Ramsey recently posted..TToT: Maternal Instinct, Antibiotics, and Holiday BlessingsMy Profile

  3. I think about this stuff. Of course I don’t have anything prepared. But I worked with a woman to help her get her photos organized and books made for her children a couple years back because she did have terminal cancer. It’s a terrible thing to be planning for your own death when your children are so young. But I would think it would give your family some measure of comfort to be able to look back on good times or read a letter that you wrote for an occasion. I would like to leave behind a legacy like that.
    Michelle recently posted..Creating Custom Cards with Cardstore.comMy Profile

  4. I think it is pretty normal. A few years ago, I was told I had a biopsy come back cancerous in my mouth. It was an awful time filled with surgeries and fear and tears. I kept thinking, I should be nicer to my kids. I should DO something. I didn’t do anything in the two weeks I thought I had cancer. The final surgery showed no cancer…that it was probably a human error. It was a gift and I’m glad it ended up on the other side but it did make me think once I got over the paralysis of the diagnosis, what would I do? I know I’d do a video but I love the idea of the cards so that in some small way, I am with them on those milestones.
    AnnMarie recently posted..One of My RainbowsMy Profile

  5. You’re not morbid. I think most parents experience these questions, or should! I lost a parent when I was not even four, so of course my biggest fear after losing one of my kids, is that my kids will lose one of their parents. Or both.
    I can’t help myself for thinking that way. I have no idea what I’d do, writing and photography wise, but it would be something.
    Tamara recently posted..Look Ma, No Hands!My Profile

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