AS JOURNAL KEEPERS, it’s important to think about what will happen to our journals when we are gone. Or even — and of course we hope this never happens — an accident befall us. This may seem like a morbid topic and something we’d rather avoid thinking about, but our journals are arguably our most private documents, full of thoughts and feelings which we have etched on paper (or on our hard drives). And we each have different ideas and feelings about what kind of legacy they might leave.
When my mother passed away, nearly four years ago, I inherited a lifetime of letters and journals she had written — priceless treasures as far as I’m concerned. As I read them, I’m getting to know my mother so much better, as the person and woman she was, not simply how I have imagined her. Yes, sometimes I read uncomfortably intimate information, stuff that I could get by without knowing, but it gives me a fuller picture of who she was. Her letters and journals, dating from around 1935 on, are important historical documents, detailing not only the inner life of a woman of her times but her view of world events as well.
As a result of my personal experience, I know that I’ll leave my journals for my children (they can decide whether the journals are of any value to them or not). Yet, I’ve talked to other journal keepers who wouldn’t want anyone else — especially not their children — to read their intimate thoughts, feelings, struggles.
However you feel about the subject, it’s important to communicate to someone — an estate executor, a friend, or relative — how you feel and to make arrangements for your wishes to be carried out. Then you can journal in peace, knowing that your writing will be in good hands.
How do you feel about your journals? What do you want to have done with them when you’re gone? Do you think it’s a good idea to leave them for others to read? And does it even matter? Why or why not? Leave a comment and let’s have a discussion.