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A gift that came with a lot of sad memories
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

Dear Carolyn • My fiancé died suddenly about six months ago. Needless to say, I was emotionally a mess. In the past few months I have been trying to move on as best I can. His family was always inviting and gracious to me when we were together, and continue to be to this day. Like a lot of young people, my fiancé did not have a will. My fiancé's parents and I essentially split his belongings, but they gave me his car (which was much nicer than my heap). Every single time I get in it, I think of him. My therapist gently suggested that I get rid of it. But I don't want to look like I am throwing their generosity back in their faces. I also do not want to sell it without telling them — shouldn't they be able to make the first offer?

Anonymous

Dear Anonymous • I am so sorry, that's awful. Given your (mercifully) good relationship with his parents, I think it's best just to tell them it hurts too much to use the car. Then say you didn't want to take any action without letting them know first, and offer to give back, not sell them, the car if they want it — otherwise you will trade it in. It was essentially a gift, and so your choices are to return the gift or get their blessing to handle it as you choose. If you're not ready, then hang on to the car and let time soften your grief. It will — that's just the way we're wired.

For the grieving fiancé • My parents gave me my twin brother's car after he died. Yes, I thought of him every time I got in. I cried a river of tears in that car. And for a ridiculously long time I held on to a bag of peanut M&Ms he'd left there. But I would have cried a river of tears in any car. Eventually the car became a comfort. And yes, I gave it back to my parents when I bought a new one. Please know that his parents value everything they have left of him, and they gave the car to you for safekeeping because you loved their son too. Talk to them. Don't just sell it or trade it in.

Anonymous 2

Dear Anonymous • Useful, thank you, and heartbreaking.

Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

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