After my father’s death, dealing with his mail gave me insight into his life. It was also incredibly painful.

  • After my dad died, I sent all his mail home so I could take care of it.
  • Receiving letters addressed to him was more difficult than he expected.
  • I renewed the mail forwarding service in case you continue to receive mail.

He last piece of mail my father ever received was an impersonal newsletter from a folk festival. Came over a year later he died, long after all the other correspondence had dried up. As his executor, she knew that she no longer needed a mail forwarding service. But when it came time to cancel, I hesitated.

practical information about mail forwarding it’s readily available, but you may need help preparing for the emotional journey of answering mail from the dead. It can be a dreary, tedious, frustrating, irritating, and sometimes joyous task.

I had different experiences with companies and services.

At first, I took up my duties with vigor, eager to prove that I was a faithful daughter. An intriguing mix of mail crossed my doorstep in the early days, and I was fascinated by the trinkets of my father’s life. He received personalized grocery coupons, which included discounts on turnips. My steadfast effort to keep up with the correspondence was met with kind gestures when I least expected it. In particular, a conversation with an airline rewards program representative who couldn’t have been more understanding was incredibly encouraging.

However, when Christmas came and went without a single card bearing the now-familiar mail forwarding service label, my grief washed over me. I anticipated cards from distant relatives and long-lost colleagues who hadn’t heard of my father’s death, and the silence quickly ended. My father was a brusque man. Could it be that few people kept in touch with him over the years? Did a dark elf deliberately withhold these personal missives when he needed them most? Did something go wrong during the holiday period?

In other cases, it bothered me that companies did not respond to me. A roadside assistance program was relentless in its renovation efforts, even after I personally visited his office to present a death certificate.

I’m not the only one dealing with this

Dealing with non-responsive agents is a painful task. Sonya Boersman, an Ottawa lactation consultant, knows this well. She was upset when a persistent organization kept sending solicitous emails to her deceased mother-in-law. The experience was painful for her mother-in-law, since the organization in question was the hospital where she was treated, trying to get support.

Robin Catalano, a Hudson Valley journalist, said she can identify herself. “I received collection notices after my mother passed away as she had a lot of outstanding debt. It caused a mixture of sadness at her passing, which was complicated to begin with, and anger at my mother for running up a large amount of credit debt from the card and the credit card company, who were trying to harass me to pay, even though I was not legally required to do so,” Catalano told Insider.

There are few recourses when an organization won’t stop mailing its dearly departed. Even returning the envelopes won’t work. I spoke to a Canada Post employee, who requested anonymity to protect his work, who told me he could feel the frustration of survivors when mail was returned. The handwriting on returned mail is emotionally charged. But while writing “Return to Sender” might work for personal letters, it’s essentially useless for all other correspondence, he told me. As such, those responsible for the mail of their loved ones never know when a normal day could be turned upside down with grief.

it was our last connection

As time passed, I was anxious but cautious to wrap up the process. I saw little value in continuing to pay for a mail forwarding service. Clearly, my father was no longer receiving mail, but what if there was just one more piece? Canceling it would sever one of our last tangible connections. I would conclude my duties as executor, but I would also indicate that there was nothing more I could do for him. Still, he couldn’t think of a single reason to continue the service. When my reminder notice arrived on time, I knew what to do.

However, my fingers hovered over the “renew” button once more.

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