Sorry about your mom. I get “reunion” and similar cheery mailings every now and then from the nursing home where my mother died. You’d think they’d check their records and find that some alumni leave feet first in a box. One letter began with the salutation, “How’re you doing?” It was all I could do not to send it back with “as well as can be expected, considering.” (And adding, “It’s very warm here.”)
—ACW, New Jersey
We get a Christmas card every year that is intended for the previous owners of our house (they moved out 20 years ago). The newsletter enclosed in the card regales us with the fascinating lives over the year of this family. After a few years of writing “return to sender” on the envelope and sending it back, without the desired result, we just decided to open the card and display it with our other holiday cards.
Then, a few years ago, I started sending them a holiday card. Now, not only do we receive a card and breathless newsletter intended for the previous owners, we also receive one from this family intended for us. They don’t seem to notice the same address, different names. Perhaps they work in the mail-order catalogue business.
—osafp, piedmont, ca
We went through the jury thing with my uncle for whom I was the Executor, and finally after many threats, the letter came that the next step was a summons for his arrest. I responded saying that I had informed them of his death, sent a death certificate, but if they wanted to serve the summons he could be found at Cedar Park Cemetery, giving them the address, block, row and plot number of the grave.
That did it!
—clarks43, Harlem, NYC
I’ve had a similar problem, and solved by forwarding the mail to an address I once saw on Law and Order: 847 West 35th Street. Think of all the catalogs in the middle of the Hudson.
I am an old mailman.
We mostly don’t create mail, we just try to deliver it. If the address is correct, and the people still live there, we generally do. With the gazillion pieces of mail we deliver every day, of all sizes, etc, it really is always an amazing feat.
We don’t want to get involved in WHAT people receive, as long as it is legal. Many times I am told “just throw the junk away.” That would be easier for me, but do you want ME to actually define what is junk for you? What if the letter for the deceased is very important, legal stuff that you need?
A mailman that is familiar with a route can forward mail before delivering it. Most mailers tie into our change of address system so forwarding and changes are almost immediate.
After one year, forwarding for first class stops. (2 or 3 months for second class). After that, the knowledgeable carrier with a good memory DOES toss the junk through proper means. If it is first class, or “endorsed,” it does go back to the sender. Endorsed usually is in the form of a request for an address correction, for which they pay us.
If the mail for the deceased does arrive, if it has no endorsements, or is not first class, all you (or we) can do is toss it. If it is first class or has “address service requested,” give it back to the post office with a line drawn through the address, or a simple note. We can return it to sender as “unable to forward,”
Personal contact with the sender is the best way for persistent items.
I have a story which runs somewhat counter to most of the comments so far.
My mother spent the last few years of her life in a nursing home where, among other things, she had a private telephone through a 3rd-party provider which offers those types of services.
They would send her a bill every month which was paid out of her small monthly allowance; however after she died, all my mom’s mail was forwarded to me.
About a month after her passing, I received a bill for her phone service for a very small amount – less than ten dollars I think. I called customer service and spoke with a nice woman who was very sensitive when I informed her that my mother had died.
As I asked her to cancel the account and send me a final invoice, including any forward-billed charges, I began to lose my composure — and then so did she.
I told her I’d settle the account immediately upon receipt of the bill and, after accepting her condolences, we ended the call.
I never received that final bill – and I’m grateful to that dear, sweet woman to this day.
—Howard G, New York