We often assume we know everything, or at least the most important things, about the people we love, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes we spend our lives getting to know and loving people, only to be totally blindsided by secrets after they’ve passed away.
In a recent Reddit thread, people are discussing this exact thing after someone asked the question: What disturbing thing did you find out about someone after they died?
Here are 20 of the most interesting and heartbreaking answers.
1. I spy.
My uncle died suddenly in a car crash when I was 18. My aunt has schizophrenia and went off her meds after he died, so when she was talking about eyes in the house, we tried to get her back into therapy to help her. Eventually, she couldn’t stay in the house anymore and we went to help clean it out.
We found cameras everywhere. Behind paintings, in the bookshelves, just everywhere. Eventually, we found a safe tucked away in a small opening in his closet, and when we finally cracked it open there were two unregistered guns in it alongside a wad of cash. My uncle was already very wealthy, we don’t know why he specifically had this cash set aside, or why he had illegal guns, or why he bugged his entire house. But we suspect my aunt’s illness and paranoia were worsened by him, and she wasn’t always as delusional as he made her out to be.
In better news, my aunt now lives in Florida with a caretaker in a condo, she paints for a living and is very happy.
2. Domestic violence
My grandpa whom I loved dearly and was my favourite used to beat the absolute crap out of my nan and their children and that’s why my mother and siblings hated him, really wish I had known this earlier as so many things I never understood finally make so much sense.
That my mother had an affair and I’m the product. Man involved has/had no idea I exist. Didn’t find out from my mother because she died when I was 15. Found out at the age of 21 from my aunt.
4. Grandpa stepped up.
My grandmother was raped and my oldest aunt isn’t my grandfather’s child. My grandfather came back from fighting on the Yorktown during WW2 and my grandmother was pregnant, they married and he never once denied my aunt or treated her any different in fact my dad says she was the favorite. We only found out about it when my grandmother was close to death she told my dad. She held on to that secret until she was 93 yrs old. My aunt & grandfather have both been gone since the early 2000s…
5. Secret families
I live in an apartment building and there’s a big family who live in the several apartments upstairs. A patriarch with several children and all his children have families who live in neighboring apartments. A few years ago the patriarch passed away and it was only then that his family found out he had a whole other secret family that he’s maintained for at least 20 years.
6. The fire department covered it up…
When I was a kid my dad told me that his dad had died from being electrocuted. My whole childhood he raised me and my siblings to be very cautious around electricity. When my grandmother was on her death bed, she confessed to me that how my dad’s father really died was autoerotic asphyxiation. It was the 60s, so the fire department in their small town helped cover it up.
7. “After one of my best friends died I found out how he became sick.“
I knew he had HIV, he told me really early in our friendship, but he really avoid that topic since he didn’t like to be seen as a sick person, or as a burden. He did not ask for help when he needed it, and he end up having complications and dying because of it. He had the intention to say goodbye to only 4 friends and talk to them before dying, sadly he died a couple days before we met. He already knew he was about to die but he didn’t want to tell me before we saw each other. After he passed away, his brother called me to let me know and to talk about what my friend wanted to tell me. That’s where I found out how he got hiv. He had been raped when he was really young, and he did not know he was HIV+ until a couple years later. He never wanted to tell us because of the same reason he never talked about him being sick, he didn’t like the idea of being a victim. This broke my heart. And I understood so much about him after knowing this.
8. “More hilarious than disturbing…”
…but my best friend passed away and since I was the executor of his will, I was at his apartment with his family inventorying his stuff and cleaning out the place.
His brother and I found a decrepit, early model pocket pussy or something, it looks like a small elephant trunk. We basically just wanted to get it out of the apartment before his mother and grandmother found it.
9. Teachers abusing students
I went to one of those fancy New England prep schools that has had to release reports about the sex abuse committed by teachers and faculty.
Two of my teachers who had since retired (I graduated back in the aughts) died within a few months of each other.
Days after the second one passed the school released a report that named them both-among others. They had both remained employed for many years after abusing students despite having been reported to the school by the students at the time.
10. Her anonymous blog revealed it all.
A girl I went to HS with died in a horrible car accident.
It was early morning on a summer break Saturday. No alcohol or drugs involved. We all assumed she fell sleep.
I found out later that year that she had an anonymous blog where she posted, several times trough the years, that she wanted to commit suicide crashing her car.
According to her parents, friends and teachers, she never show any suicidal tendencies. It always baffled me how you can have all this mind process and nobody could guess it.
11. Watertown Massachusetts
My great grandma and her brothers were notorious in Watertown Massachusetts for their check fraud and forgery schemes.
Oh the things you find out about the woman who would make you hot cocoa.
12. The heartbreaking truth
My dad waited until my great great grandma died to reveal that she had been complicit in the devastating sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of her husband.
13. “We thought, ‘Oh well they lived through war and communism, I bet there aren’t any’ but my mother had a feeling and something felt off for her…”
My grandpa died in the late 90s of a heart attack when he was about 65 years old. My whole family came to Germany from Poland in the 80s and my grandparents were Kids throughout WW2. We didn’t find any pictures of him from when he was a child when we went through his stuff after he died. We thought „oh well they lived through war and communism, I bet there aren’t any“ but my mother had a feeling and something felt off for her. We asked my grandpas aunt who was still alive at that point. She burst into tears and told us that he was a german, jewish kid my great-grandparents rescued from a train heading to Auschwitz during WW2 and that they used the papers of their son who passed away just a few weeks earlier. We all were stunned but in hindsight it did explain a lot of things like how he suffered from PTSD and almost had no polish accent when he spoke german. It still amazes me how they kept this secret for over half a century.
14. Super sad.
Not necessarily disturbing, but after my aunt died we found out she was pregnant and on the day she died she was going to tell us, she had a positive pregnancy test in her bag as she got hit by a drunk driver. Pretty sad to think about.
15. “To be opened only by [me] after my death. My suggestion BURN IT.”
When we were cleaning out dad’s house after his death, in his safe, I found a thick envelope with the words “To be opened only by [me] after my death. My suggestion BURN IT”.
Long story short, dear old dad had another identity and family. My sister and I have several new siblings. This happened somewhat recently and we are all still processing it.
I had a cousin who had taken over as secretary of our local Rotary Club. He had taken over after my dad had served in the same position. After my cousin died, we found that he had been embezzling from Rotary Club funds. My dad was heartbroken.
Close to 30 years after she passed, I found out my grandmother had a really bad addiction to codeine. When I found out it totally filled in the blanks of why my dad’s relationship with her was the way it was. RIP to both of them. Love em, miss em, wouldn’t be who I am without em.
18. Nanna hated Americans
My nanna always hated Americans. Despised them. She was in the British Royal Forces during WW2 and would tell me stories about the loud mouthed, stupid American soldiers she had to deal with and that I should NEVER trust an American because “they’re stupid and dangerous.” This woman wouldn’t even watch American tv shows or movies – hated the Americans too much. Hating Americans was a pretty big part of her personality. After she died in 2006 I found out that she was actually engaged to an American soldier during the war. I don’t know how long this soldier had spent in Britain… but at some stage he had to leave to finish his tour and later to the US. After the war she and her sister travelled to America from England so she could marry this man she was deeply in love with, only to find him in a hospital after having both his legs blown off in battle. Story has it that she still wanted to marry him but he refused. Claimed that she deserved a man who could provide for her – not an “invalid”. Heartbroken, she returned to England and married my grandfather instead (who she never really liked.) She always told me that the best years of her life were those in the Air Force during WW2. I guess now I know why. Turns out this guy was the love of her life. Her sister told my mum this story years ago and claimed that it was absolutely heartbreaking.
19. Grandpa was a rolling stone
We recently had to bury my grandpa and we were the secret most people didn’t know about until we got to the wake. Basically, my grandpa was married to somebody but sleeping around and then he slept with my grandma, who was best friends with his wife. They had two kids, my mom and my aunt, but they never really interacted with my grandpa’s side of the family, since even if he wanted us to be close to them, his wife and parents wanted nothing to do with my mom and aunt and my grandma wanted nothing to do with them.
20. Accidents happen?
That my grandmother accidentally killed her younger sister. They were walking back from school and my GM shoved her sister and she fell under a car which ran over her.
21. Step-grandma had some secrets…
When my step-grandmother died we found out she was unloading my grandfather’s money to her daughter who was born from her previous marriage. My grandfather was in cognitive decline in his later years and his health was failing. She got him to sign all kinds of things. She bought her daughter’s $200k house for $1.8m, put it in her name, so her daughter could keep living there. $9,999 gifts every year to her daughter and grandkids. Bought their cars. Investments in her name that would transfer to her daughter when she died.
Over a five year period she was able to transfer close to $8 million.
Every time we would see her she would talk about how great it was to have family, how wonderful it was that everyone got together, etc. She acted like the sweetest old lady while the entire time she was ripping off my family. Every time we saw her daughter (who lived in another state) she was the nicest person to us – while taking all of the money.
She truly expected to outlive the old man. Everybody did. And she had everything set up perfectly.
Except she died before he did. Just died of natural causes in her sleep. Shocked everyone. I mean you had this frail old man who couldn’t stay awake for more than an hour at a time that was reliving memories from 75 years ago every time you spoke to him and a vibrant (granted elderly) healthy lady he was married to. And he outlived her.
By the time she died my grandfather was in really bad shape – mentally and physically. We had to clean out her things and we found all of the paperwork – every last detail. He couldn’t comprehend what she had done and after trying to tell him about it a couple of times, we stopped trying. Nothing could be done legally. Her daughter was set for life.
When there is money involved, people become vultures.
22. Black market Frakenstein.
I found out that my uncle somehow had a black market liver.
He went through the first via drinking himself nearly to death. He wouldn’t stop drinking and drugging so the implant folks wouldn’t put him on a list.
He then takes a trip to, I believe, India and gets a liver implanted. He then found a shady doctor here for aftercare. After that, he drank through another liver in 3 years. He was preparing for another trip to India, but covid stopped him from traveling (he was anti-vax too). He died not long ago due to his liver not working anymore.
From what I’m seeing and what his wife says, I’m 99% sure that liver was harvested from a living donor.