You can spend your entire life thinking that you know someone, only to discover one shocking secret that turns your entire perception of them on its head.
Reddit user u/HarryHolmes68 asked, "What did you find out about one of your loved ones after they passed away?" Here are a few answers from Reddit and the BuzzFeed Community that range from simple and wholesome to absolutely shocking:
1."It's not really a hot secret, but when my grandmother died, all of a sudden, everyone acted as if it was common family knowledge that she and my grandfather had divorced and were set to marry other people but dumped them and got remarried. While not exactly nightly dinner conversation, it would have been nice to know these things!"
2."When my dad died, my brother-in-law broke open an old locked cabinet we found in my parents' place while we were cleaning it out. It had a few pictures and love letters from a woman he’d been having an affair with when I was a kid. We never knew he was cheating, but it was odd that he would take me to his office every Saturday morning to make sure he picked up his mail. When my sister and I thought about it, we realized all of the work trips he took and times he 'fell asleep at work' must have been when he was with this other woman."
3."After my paternal grandfather passed away, my grandmother felt comfortable being transparent about the fact that my grandfather was gay. It makes sense, thinking back, because in all my years, I never remembered them showing any affection, and there was a meanness to his behavior toward her. He even had a long-term partner to whom he, unfortunately, gave his little bit of money upon his passing, which resulted in the grandkids helping my grandmother cover expenses. I’ve never spoken anything about it with my father. I still get sad that my grandmother had to endure a marriage with someone she wasn’t in love with. But also, for him having to live a 'lie' his entire life because of the times."
4."My stepdad, who raised me, passed away in April 2022. He came into my life when I was 2 and my mom was 23. We didn’t do the whole 'stepparent-child' thing, but for the first couple of years, I called him by his name, Kurt, or sometimes I called him Kurtie. I started calling him Dad when I was about 7; then they had my sister when I was 11. She and I are super close and always have been. My mom, sister, and I were his world. After he passed, my mom found EVERY SINGLE note she had written him when he worked nights after they first got together, along with pictures my sister and I had drawn him. Some were over 25 years old. We had NO idea that he literally kept everything we ever wrote or drew for him."
5."While trying to find out my family’s history, I came across a census report that listed my grandma as a granddaughter instead of a daughter. This meant that one of her 'sisters' was actually her mother. I only told my mom and brother, and my grandma has since passed. I haven’t been able to confirm anything from the census report."
6."I found out around 10 years ago that my great-grandpa, who died when I was about 5 years old, had a fake name. He went AWOL from the British Royal Navy just before the breakout of World War I, stole a Canadian man's identity, and traveled to Canada on a steamer ship, then came to Ohio, where I am from."
7."When my great-grandmother died, we were going through her things and found her diaries. When she was in her 40s, she had an affair with the married man who owned the store where she worked. Nobody ever knew."
8."This is such a trivial thing to admit: I didn't know until the eulogy during my paternal great-grandmother's funeral that she was born in France to artists and that she went to art school. This revelation almost broke my brain. She was the school matron type, with zero interest in art. Nine years have gone, and I still struggle to associate that revelation with her."
9."My great-grandmother was sent to Canada in the 1880s by her family in Eastern Europe and told to 'find work and send money back so the family doesn't starve.' She was 16 and knew no one on this side of the ocean."
10."When my father passed, we were looking for his US Marine Corps discharge papers, and we found out that his mother forged his birth certificate in 1928 to say that she was married to his father, when it appears that he was born out of wedlock. She grew up and lived in Toronto, but my dad had been born in Indiana. It made total sense to me, and it didn’t alter my opinion of my dad, but to my devoutly Catholic mother, it was a travesty. My dad was still my dad and I was always his little girl, and he treated my mother like a queen. What happened almost 100 years ago doesn’t matter and didn’t make him less of a person."
11."My nana had a famous chicken stew and wouldn’t share the recipe at all. After she died, my grandfather admitted it was just canned creamy chicken soup, some veggies, and KFC chicken. I make it now, but no wonder it had a certain taste; It was KFC chicken."
12."I found the bill for my sister’s dinner and drinks in her wallet. She never paid for the meal she ate the night before she died. My mom went to the restaurant and paid what was owing in the midst of her own pain. Now, that was a valuable object lesson in moral character."
13."Grandma was a Russian spy in the Cold War. Wild."
14."She was a school nurse many, many years ago, when she might have earned $15,000 a year. She was a lifelong renter back when it was, like, cheap for a whole house. Where did $153,000 in liquid savings come from? She had a few fiancés who sort of randomly died. No one in authority ever questioned her about having this sort of money. So, okay, then."
15."My grandfather was in the Yugoslav navy, and one of the strongest swimmers in the country. When my grandfather would want to pass the time, he would go to beaches and sit around, basically lifeguarding the beach without getting paid, just because he was 'bored.' He saved multiple people's lives over the years. He passed away in late 2019, and my mother told me all kinds of stories about him after he passed, and this one stood out!"
16."My great-grandfather was in the Air Force in World War II as a navigator, which is the guy in the back looking at the map and saying when to drop bombs. He married his second wife in the '70s. She was his secretary and 20 years younger than he was, and she just happened to be from Germany. They stayed together until his death in like 2002, give or take a year. After he died, she went through his things, found his navigation logs, and discovered what bombs they dropped where. We always knew she had been in Berlin as a child in World War II, and we knew Granddad was in the war, but it wasn't until she saw the logs that we found out that the bombs she remembered hiding from were the ones he was dropping."
17."My dad died in 1988. He was a smart man and a qualified engineer. During my childhood in the '70s I, like most little boys of that era, was fascinated by space, rockets, and astronauts. Dad always encouraged my interest. He would buy me books and toys that were space related and would talk about space things with me for hours on end. With his help, I turned into such a space nerd that in my first year of secondary school, when we each had to give a five-minute talk during English about a topic we were passionate about, I talked for over 30 minutes about the stellar life cycle. I found out only a few years ago from Mum that he believed the moon landings were a hoax."
18."My great-aunt never married and passed in her late 40s from cancer. She read a ton and kept all the books she read. My grandma (her sister) would brag about how well read she was. Going through her stuff after she passed, we found out that much of the reading was of dirty novels."
19."I knew that my uncle — a priest and chaplain at a Catholic university — had smuggled birth control into campus. I found out at his funeral that he had helped at least two students, maybe many more, get off campus for abortions. I’m not Catholic or even Christian, but I’m proud to have named my son after my late uncle."
20."My grandma grew up in eastern North Carolina and always told us about these sweet dances she would go to. A bus would take all the girls in her small town to spend time with the men before they shipped out during World War II. It always seemed real wholesome and sweet. Grandma would brag that she was the best dancer and men were always proposing to her. It turns out, it was basically a fuck trip and half the girls ended up pregnant. MY GRANDMA AND GREAT-AUNT WENT EVERY MONTH! It was the highlight of their teen years! Grandma also got asked to move out of her nursing home because she was sleeping with three different men in their 90s. One threatened to kill the other two men."
21."My paternal grandmother had six aliases because she turned in several mob members in the '60s."
22."I knew a girl whose grandparents passed away. When the family cleaned out the grandparents’ bedroom, they found a video camera, a stack of videotapes, and a bunch of BDSM equipment. The craziest part was the videotapes were a mix of family memories and more recent sexual exploits, as their grandparents were reusing the family videotapes for their sexual adventures."
23."Despite her constant denials, my grandmother did indeed take Sweet'N Low packets from restaurants and stuff them in her purse."
24."So I only found this out about eight years after he died, but my maternal granddad early on in his career had ties to the mob in the Midwest, and my mom told me that he was actually interrogated by the FBI as they were investigating JFK's assassination in 1963 to see if he could give any insights on possible connections. I wish I knew more about it, but I was young when he died!"
25."My pop was a heavy smoker but gave it up one day. Apparently, a driving force was a letter I wrote him when I was young that said I didn't want him to die. That letter was found in his wardrobe after he passed. He kept it all those years."
26."My maternal grandfather had donated thousands to charities over the years, and no one knew. He’d just write a check, put it in the envelope, and give it to my grandmother. Once he passed and my mom took a look at his records, she found it all. I already loved the dude, but that was just amazing."
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.