As long as you’re not hurting anyone who is still alive, reveal family secrets. It is what your children and grandchildren want to know, it will bring your story to life and it can be an important cathartic experience for you.
Martha Norman, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, writes, “Every family has something they don’t want to talk about. In my family it was epilepsy and suicide. In other families it’s violence, or depression, or stupidity, or sex, or money, or even genius.The human condition can probably be defined as the stuff families won’t talk about.”
In my very own family, it was murder. Or murders. My bootlegging father and my uncle (who was innocent and just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time} were murdered by the Mafia in a turf war during Prohibition.
I was an infant at the time, and when I became old enough to ask Mother about my father’s death, she told me he died of pneumonia. To the end of her life, she was unable to tell me the truth, and it remained a tightly held secret within the entire family.
After my mother died, I researched my father’s life and death and wrote about the secret in my memoir, Lost And Found. When the book was published, to my surprise, it was received with compassion and fascination by my family and my readers (who often took me aside at book signings to tell me their family secrets. And I experienced first-hand the liberating, life-changing, power of the truth.