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by Abigail Van Buren

Roadside Memorial Grows in Homeowner's Front Yard

DEAR ABBY: I need some help. A terrible car accident happened in front of my house a few months ago that resulted in the death of a husband and father. The family comes out every Sunday to place flowers at the accident site, which is my front yard. At first, I had no problem with them expressing their grief and tried to console the widow every time I saw her. The problem is, she has gradually added to the area a memorial stone, an angel statue, vases and some of her husband's belongings. My front yard is beginning to look like a graveyard -- a tacky one.

Now she's asking to place a protective shelter over the site. I don't know how to respond. My husband is threatening to go and pull everything up as it is. To add to the stress of all this, another fatal accident occurred last month, resulting in the death of a 22-year-old. He was the son of one of my children's teachers. I can't imagine what she must be feeling right now, passing our home and seeing the graveyard out front. It must be heartbreaking. We live on a dangerous road, and we are petitioning for changes, but I don't want to make our front yard a spectacle. -- GRIEVING IN THE MIDWEST

DEAR GRIEVING: You are obviously a caring person or you wouldn't have allowed this situation to have gone as far as it has. It won't be a pleasant conversation, but the time has come for you and your husband to talk with the widow together and explain that while you sympathize with her devastating loss, you prefer your yard not be used this way. You have that right. It's private property.

Suggest to her that there may be some other way to memorialize her husband, but you need the stone and other objects removed within a reasonable time frame. You may also want to check with your local officials to see what the laws are about this.

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