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by Abigail Van Buren

Grieving Parents Receive Disturbing Gift With Poise

DEAR ABBY: At a recent anniversary celebration for my parents, a well-meaning but thoughtless in-law sent them a gift from my deceased sister, with a card signed with her name. She died of cancer two years ago.

Her loss has been difficult and heartbreaking for all of us, especially my parents. I am furious at this guest for giving such a "gift." My parents were visibly shocked, but thanked the person anyway.

I knew the in-law was planning something like this, and I asked that it not be done at the party. I wish I had just said, "No! Don't do it!" I'm not sure whether I am madder at the gift giver or myself. I feel like the work we have done to recover from the loss has been set back. I could use some good advice. -- SPEECHLESS IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR SPEECHLESS: Your parents are extraordinarily gracious people to have handled the situation as tactfully as they did. It must have been devastating for them. The in-law's level of insensitivity is appalling.

Please do not blame yourself for what happened. If you had said, "Don't do it," it probably would have happened anyway. What's done is done, now let it go.