image by olivander
Recently, a Kaizen Reader, Sarah Leonard asked on the Kaizen Journaling Facebook Page (which by the way, you should definitely “like” and participate on, cause you know…it needs you), if I ever wonder about what would happen to my journals when I die. She also went on to say that it wasn’t something that worried her when she was a child, but now with a daughter of her own who may read her journals, it does.
It’s a good question, and a question I suspect all journal keeper ask themselves whether consciously or subconsciously. I’ve indirectly touched on this topic, but let’s get it out in the open.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN DECIDING THE FATE OF YOUR JOURNALS
1. Worrying May Ruin Your Journaling
First, a simple answer to a simple question:
Should you worry about what will happen to your journals when you die?
To elaborate on that, you definitely should not worry about what will happen to your journals, or who might read them, because if you worry, then you will automatically start censoring. As soon as you start censoring, you defeat at least a part of the purpose of keeping a journal. That censoring prevents you from being open with yourself.
Let’s take Sarah as an example in a hypothetical situation. What if she’s having a really bad time with her daughter? Perhaps her daughter’s going through a hard time, and taking it out on Sarah. Sarah vents in her journal about her daughter, so that she can process her feelings, and be calm and understanding when actually talking to her daughter.
What will happen if Sarah starts worrying that her daughter might read her journal? She’s automatically worry about what to write in it. Perhaps she wouldn’t want to write anything negative about her daughter. Perhaps she wouldn’t want to write intimate things with her husband/partner.
This is just one example, from one situation. The road to worry is never ending. What if you start worrying your spouse might read your journal? You may not feel comfortable writing about things that might offend them, and considering a spouse forms a major part of a person’s life, it may leave a lot of things left unsaid. That may lead to resentment, and venting you did not do in your journal, may actually come out when you argue with your spouse.
Stop worrying. Write in your journals whatever you want to write. Your journaling is something you do for yourself, and it should remain so.
2. To Destroy or Not to Destroy
This is going to be a personal decision for each individual. I have considered this question for my journals too. On one hand, I am not comfortable with anyone reading my journals. But on the other hand, I am going to be dead, so you know, it doesn’t matter.
But my current decision (and this is subject to change at any time) is that I will not destroy my journal.
I have good reasons for this decision. The most important of them is that diaries and journals are a valuable recording of our history in progress. Think about it. My journals will hold an entirely different story than yours. We write different things, we record different things about the world, about individuals. This is history in the making. It may not be important on the grand scale of things, but just think about its human value.
I personally love old diaries. I buy published diaries that appeal to me, and reading them is like exploring a different time and place, through a very personal connection.
Our journals have power to add to that history. Just imagine the value they might add to that one future student, trying to piece together history of the 21st century.
So, I’m against destroying journals. Unless your journals are really going to cause major chaos and harm to the world, I think it’s better to not worry about what happens after you die – because you will be dead, and won’t know any better – and let the journals find their own way into the world.
3. Leaving a legacy or not
I don’t have children, so I don’t know at the moment whether I would leave my journals to someone, or just leave them, and let their fate play out by whoever ends up clearing my stuff.
But I tend to lean towards leaving my journals to someone who might like that sort of thing, or even to an institution like the Mass Observation Archive. It’s something to think about. If you have children, perhaps you may want to leave it to them. But what if you have more than one child, one of whom would be genuinely interested in reading your journals whereas the other one would just dump them. In that event, is it really the question of being fair, or should you just leave them to the child who would value them?
The answers would be different for each person, for each family. Think about it certainly, but don’t obsess about it. Whenever you find yourself worrying, remember the first point in this post.
Keeping your journal is what matters. What happens to them after your death is a secondary issue.
Share your views about this topic in the comments below. Do you know what you want to do with your journals after your death? Are there any particular concerns about it, troubling you?