Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Family secrets

Once again today I have been staggered by the revelation of family secrets and tragedies. I came home to three funerals two of them for people I know. Even the closest of their family members have only recently found some fairly startling facts about the early life of their relation.
Tragedy happens in most people's lives and it's interesting to note that often the person most affected chooses not to talk about it. I suppose it's the same in my family. It causes pain to disclose that your father committed suicide as mine did and even more to tell your children that actually it was a relief at the time for my brother and myself. And yet only after my brother died did I find that his family had never been told most of it. We tend to stick to the bare bones, fearing that somehow, awful things detract from us, even things that happened long before we were born.
To find that your long dead uncle had died in a Japanese prisoner of war camp stuns you into a sense of unreality in some cases. This then is brought into stark reality on finding a poem written by his mother on hearing of her son's death. I have read the poem. It is poignant and beautiful but it was placed in a family Bible and left there for 50 years without being read.
We tell people to talk about their griefs when possible. But some people are simply unable to do this. Who knows what their lives might have been if the family had shared it's secrets.
It would be good to talk.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad


  1. I do agree that most (not all) secrets are best brought out into the light of day, and that most people strangled by the need real or imagined, to keep everything under wraps will benefit hugely from that airing.
    But, and it's a big but, one should choose ones 'audience'/confessor/recipient with the greatest of care.
    I think one of the main reasons people keep secrets is a fear of somehow becoming a lesser person in others' eyes.
    Whether we admit it or deny it, most of us need public approbation in order to retain self-respect. At least, that is true for me.

  2. I have found through investigating our family history some things, which must have been a secret in their day, and not talked about, but now seem so inconsequential. An example is discovering that my spouse's Nan was illegitimate, and she had known her in her lifetime. But is seems that my spouses parents did not know? Or if they did, it was never spoken about.

    I've discovered similar events on my own side, and I must admit that while surprised, given my family history and where we come from, it should not surprise me at all.

    I discovered a couple of years ago, my uncles story and his experiences as a POW in Italy and Germany, it makes a vivid story, but one that is also painful due to the treatment he and thousands of others received during the long march from Camps in Eastern Europe due to the Russians advance.