My parents were both pieces of work—manipulative and frequently cruel (like, one year my mom baked my favorite cake for, I thought, my birthday and then gave it to a co-worker “just because”). I have done a lot of therapy over this. My parents are both dead now; my father died two years ago, my mother last year. Since I lived in the same city, I got stuck with sorting out the estate. It’s almost all done and dusted now, but I am left with the question of what to do with the stuff they hid.
I have found decades of intercepted mail and medical information that was kept from all three of us kids. There’s an acceptance letter to my brother’s dream college that he never received, birthday cards from friends and relatives, money, paperwork for my sister’s diagnosis that my parents always spoke vaguely about and later denied. My sister gave up a baby for adoption when she was 15, and apparently the adoptive family sent her photos for a few years—which we never saw. I even found a break-up letter from the boyfriend I thought had ghosted me when I was a teenager (it turns out his sister had been in an accident and he had to go help his family).
It’s obvious that these were deliberately withheld and not simply misplaced. Now what? I know that I should give these things to the original recipients, but I feel just as strongly that some of these things are just hurtful, with no opportunity for remedy. It seems equally unkind to never let my sister see these pictures of her baby as a 4-year-old as it would be to tell my brother he could have gotten a full-ride scholarship. And once I make a decision, there will be no taking it back. What should I do?