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by Abigail Van Buren

Quilts Given to Family Members Are Returned After Death

DEAR ABBY: I am a quilter. I have created hundreds of quilts as gifts for friends and family over the last 30 years.

Earlier this year, my husband's uncle passed away, and my mother-in-law brought his quilt over and gave it back to me. When my mother passed recently, I was given her quilt back, too. Looking at them makes me sad, but I can't bear to just throw them away.

My question is, what do I do with them? And what can I say to people about not returning these gifts I made without hurting their feelings at the time they've lost their loved ones? -- HURT IN CALIFORNIA

DEAR HURT: This is the first I have heard about returning personal gifts to the givers after someone passes away, and frankly, I am surprised. I wonder if the same would be true of gifts of expensive jewelry or clothing?

If it happens again, all you have to say is how sorry you are for the person's loss but that you don't "need" the quilt back and suggest it be donated to a hospital, nursing home, senior center or orphanage. Consider contacting a local church for information on where they might be needed.

As to what to say to these grieving relatives, remember that when a gift is given, it is the recipient's -- or the recipient's survivors -- to do with as they wish. Try not to take it so personally.

Read more in: Death | Etiquette & Ethics