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Wedding Woes

I'm not sure there's a way to say anything about it without an issue.

Dear Prudence,

My father died three years ago. He left relatively little money but about a dozen pieces of jewelry worth perhaps a few hundred to a few thousand dollars each, most of which he’d acquired during his 40-year marriage to our stepmother. My sister was the executor of my father’s estate. She agonized over how to equitably divide the jewelry and portioned it between herself, my brother, and me as fairly as she could. Our father’s beautiful diamond wedding ring went to our brother. Just a few weeks after this, my brother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He died just eight short months after we lost our father. Our mother died that same year, so our grief is very deep and ongoing. Fast forward to this week: I commented on an attractive ring my nephew was wearing. He revealed that his mother, my sister-in-law, had melted down my father’s and my brother’s wedding rings and had them made into new pieces of jewelry for himself and his two siblings. My sister-in-law apparently had no intention of telling me about this.

I was shocked and devastated. We have virtually nothing left but that jewelry to remember our father and stepmother by. To melt down our father’s wedding ring left me appalled. My sister or I would happily have paid her any amount of money for that ring. I know in my head that once a thing is given, it is the property of the recipient to do with as she wishes. But my heart is aching, even more because she also disposed of my brother’s ring, albeit in a way that gives a bit of it to each of his children. I believe her intention was good, but it was without regard to the loss my sister and I have endured. That ring is irretrievably lost. But there are a few other pieces that were also given to my brother, which my sister-in-law now owns. One in particular has special meaning to my sister and me, an antique that belonged to our grandmother.

Would it be proper for us to let our sister-in-law know how we feel about the loss of our father’s wedding ring and to ask about her intentions for our grandmother’s ring? How should we broach this topic? We love our sister-in-law very much and don’t want to create a rift in the family, but we are hurt that she took this step without giving us an opportunity to salvage our father’s ring. Should I also mention that this secret was revealed to me at an event during which we met our sister-in-law’s new boyfriend? Ouch.

—Melting Family Heirlooms

Re: I'm not sure there's a way to say anything about it without an issue.

  • You are unpacking a lot of grief here but nothing that you propose here is even remotely appropriate.  You said it already:

    I know in my head that once a thing is given, it is the property of the recipient to do with as she wishes.

    Keep repeating that to yourself.   This was given to your brother and then became property of his late wife upon his demise.   It isn't yours and what you think is the proper way to use this jewelry is your opinion.   You get to use your opinion with anything that is yours but you MUST bite your tongue because frankly you'd be out of line to mention this.

    The best thing you can do now: Recognize that your SIL actually did something that is very meaningful - something was made (maybe even with your nephew's input) from heirloom pieces that are now used to be something new that your nephew uses.   He knows that the ring comes from his father and grandfather and THAT is what makes this special.

    There is NOTHING for you to salvage here because these aren't your items to salvage.   And if your sister-in-law dating someone new is also feeling like salt is being poured in the wound I think that's only further marring your ability to execute good judgement.   Nothing done here can bring back these people or reverse time.   Rather than cling to styles and possessions that belonged to people who are no longer with us look at what they and your family has become and work to have a more positive attitude.     
    STARMOON44charlotte989875short+sassy
  • The answer is no.  And find someone you can talk to about your grief.  Your SIL's grief over her husband is allowed to express itself as well, without interference or superimposing your own, LW. 

    I mean, really...LW never refers to her brother as this SIL husband.  I feel like there's some past history here that isn't great.
    ei34
  • You've been through a lot of loss recently, and I'm sorry for that. I think it's essential that you seek counseling for your grief as soon as possible. 

    I understand why you're unhappy about what happened with your father's and brother's rings, but I think your SIL having those rings made into other jewelry for your kids was a lovely and meaningful gesture (and not an unusual one).  While I don't think it would've hurt for her to run it by the rest of you first, I also think you should respect THEIR grief as well and how they have chosen to honor your family members and keep a piece of your father and brother with them.

    As for your grandmother's jewelry, I agree with @Casadena that it's okay to ask about it once. But if SIL says no, you need to accept that answer and let it go, and not hold it against her.
    image
    VarunaTTSTARMOON44charlotte989875short+sassy
  • mrsconn23 said:
    VarunaTT said:
    The answer is no.  And find someone you can talk to about your grief.  Your SIL's grief over her husband is allowed to express itself as well, without interference or superimposing your own, LW. 

    I mean, really...LW never refers to her brother as this SIL husband.  I feel like there's some past history here that isn't great.
    Especially LW said 'ouch' about meeting SIL's new BF.  :/  This LW needs a grief counselor like yesterday.  

    I also find it preoccupation not only with the jewelry, but its monetary value, is interesting.  They brought up that there was no value in the estate except for this jewelry vs. the sentimental value to them or their siblings. Because it makes me think that LW would not make a stink if this was costume jewelry or something else that didn't have a high value.  

    Also, I'm not sure why LW is upset that their brother's jewelry went to his CHILDREN.  Like, what? 
    Right? 

    My grandmother left diamonds to me and to my cousin.   My cousin had the stone added to her e-ring.   It was previously not her style so she put it in one that she liked more.

    I have a big cocktail ring and I haven't done anything with it but still think about it.   I wear it a few times a year at max and it's now mine to do with as I like.   It won't stop reminding me of my grandmother and I'd like to believe that if someone questioned me doing something with my items I'd ask if they would prefer that these items never see the light of day or if they can respect that these are now recreated and rising like a Phoenix out of the ashes. 
    charlotte989875short+sassy
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    I think it's really cool that the SIL had the rings melted down and created into pieces for each of their three kids. I would love to have something created from my father and grandfather's wedding rings. LW is crazy for thinking she has any right to a say or any advance warning, or for thinking these items are better placed with a sibling than the kids. 

    Agree that it's ok to ask once about the other pieces, but it's entirely possible SIL wants to keep them for the children as well. These people are their family too. 
    charlotte989875short+sassyei34
  • Your grieving sister in-law used property that she inherited from her dead husband to creates something beautiful for his children. No. Don’t say anything. You got the jewelry you got, and that’s it. 
    charlotte989875ei34
  • I also found it weird that LW mentioned her brother's wedding ring. I mean...his wife should be allowed to do whatever she wants with it. That's not for his sisters to say!
    Good point.   

    From where I sit LW is clinging to the past and looking for ways to control how things were because she's not moving on after these depressing life events.   These are reasons that seeing a good therapist can help or even talking over things with a good friend who won't sugar coat it.  


    mrsconn23climbingwifeVarunaTTei34
  • mrsconn23 said:
    banana468 said:
    I also found it weird that LW mentioned her brother's wedding ring. I mean...his wife should be allowed to do whatever she wants with it. That's not for his sisters to say!
    Good point.   

    From where I sit LW is clinging to the past and looking for ways to control how things were because she's not moving on after these depressing life events.   These are reasons that seeing a good therapist can help or even talking over things with a good friend who won't sugar coat it.  


    I think the brother's ring was only brought into it because it was melted down WITH the dad's ring and then they were mixed to make the new pieces.   

    But I still can't even with the fact that LW thinks they're entitled to the SIL returning the ring their brother inherited from the dad's estate.  Especially since the SIL used it to make things for her children to remember their dad and grandpa. 

    I get feeling unreasonable in these types of circumstances (trust me, the last week has been an exercise in just how unreasonable I can feel when shit is spiraling out of my control...I keep having to remind DH that I know that I'm being unreasonable and I need to sit in it for a few), but I just cannot reconcile wanting to take things away from the children of your deceased brother because you have an issue with how your SIL managed god-knows-what (your brother's death, his property, dating after death, etc).  
    Right - someone that's close to the LW hopefully needs to tell her that all of this is smacking of someone who needs some help dealing with her grief.    She's acting like she's the only one who has lost someone and that her way of dealing with grief is the only way.   
    charlotte989875
  • She (and her sister) should not say ANYTHING about the rings being melted down.  It might have been important to them to have bought it back.  But I bet it was important to the SIL to have enough metal to melt down, in order to give her children a part of their father's and grandfather's jewelry.

    I mean, the LW is acting like the SIL went down to a pawn store and sold the rings for scrap value, ffs.  Which, still would have been her right to do!  But she didn't.  She turned them into special jewelry for her and her deceased husband's children.

    With all that said, I don't see anything wrong with the LW and/or her sister approaching the SIL about buying the other jewelry.  Especially the grandmother's piece.  Even if the SIL isn't ready to sell anything now, the conversation could end with, "We understand.  But if you change your mind in the future, we would especially appreciate it if you contact us first."  And then they need to let it go.  The seed has been planted and their wishes are now known.  But they cannot keep asking about it.  
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    banana468charlotte989875
  • She (and her sister) should not say ANYTHING about the rings being melted down.  It might have been important to them to have bought it back.  But I bet it was important to the SIL to have enough metal to melt down, in order to give her children a part of their father's and grandfather's jewelry.

    I mean, the LW is acting like the SIL went down to a pawn store and sold the rings for scrap value, ffs.  Which, still would have been her right to do!  But she didn't.  She turned them into special jewelry for her and her deceased husband's children.

    With all that said, I don't see anything wrong with the LW and/or her sister approaching the SIL about buying the other jewelry.  Especially the grandmother's piece.  Even if the SIL isn't ready to sell anything now, the conversation could end with, "We understand.  But if you change your mind in the future, we would especially appreciate it if you contact us first."  And then they need to let it go.  The seed has been planted and their wishes are now known.  But they cannot keep asking about it.  
    If she asks I hope that she's told that her phrasing needs to be on point and the request if made does not need to be honored.     
    mrsconn23short+sassyVarunaTTcharlotte989875
  • banana468 said:
    She (and her sister) should not say ANYTHING about the rings being melted down.  It might have been important to them to have bought it back.  But I bet it was important to the SIL to have enough metal to melt down, in order to give her children a part of their father's and grandfather's jewelry.

    I mean, the LW is acting like the SIL went down to a pawn store and sold the rings for scrap value, ffs.  Which, still would have been her right to do!  But she didn't.  She turned them into special jewelry for her and her deceased husband's children.

    With all that said, I don't see anything wrong with the LW and/or her sister approaching the SIL about buying the other jewelry.  Especially the grandmother's piece.  Even if the SIL isn't ready to sell anything now, the conversation could end with, "We understand.  But if you change your mind in the future, we would especially appreciate it if you contact us first."  And then they need to let it go.  The seed has been planted and their wishes are now known.  But they cannot keep asking about it.  
    If she asks I hope that she's told that her phrasing needs to be on point and the request if made does not need to be honored.     
    Exactly!  On that note, I would also recommend that she and her sister calm down about the wedding rings first.  This needs to be a calm request.  Asked more like a "favor" as opposed to an "expectation".  Because it is a favor, even if the sisters pay a fair price for the jewelry.  And it's very possible the SIL wants to keep the jewelry to pass down to the nieces and nephews.  Which is still keeping it in the family anyway.  But I get it.  The LW and her sister would also like the jewelry, if the SIL is amenable.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    VarunaTTbanana468
  • banana468 said:
    She (and her sister) should not say ANYTHING about the rings being melted down.  It might have been important to them to have bought it back.  But I bet it was important to the SIL to have enough metal to melt down, in order to give her children a part of their father's and grandfather's jewelry.

    I mean, the LW is acting like the SIL went down to a pawn store and sold the rings for scrap value, ffs.  Which, still would have been her right to do!  But she didn't.  She turned them into special jewelry for her and her deceased husband's children.

    With all that said, I don't see anything wrong with the LW and/or her sister approaching the SIL about buying the other jewelry.  Especially the grandmother's piece.  Even if the SIL isn't ready to sell anything now, the conversation could end with, "We understand.  But if you change your mind in the future, we would especially appreciate it if you contact us first."  And then they need to let it go.  The seed has been planted and their wishes are now known.  But they cannot keep asking about it.  
    If she asks I hope that she's told that her phrasing needs to be on point and the request if made does not need to be honored.     
    Exactly!  On that note, I would also recommend that she and her sister calm down about the wedding rings first.  This needs to be a calm request.  Asked more like a "favor" as opposed to an "expectation".  Because it is a favor, even if the sisters pay a fair price for the jewelry.  And it's very possible the SIL wants to keep the jewelry to pass down to the nieces and nephews.  Which is still keeping it in the family anyway.  But I get it.  The LW and her sister would also like the jewelry, if the SIL is amenable.
    Right.   My MIL loves to say, "This is just a suggestion" and what she means is, "This is how I think it should go and if you don't do it my way I'm going to keep telling you why I think you made a piss poor choice to not do what I SUGGESTED." 

    So LW's tone and behavior are going to be critical here.   She needs to know that she isn't entitled to ANYTHING. 
    VarunaTTmrsconn23short+sassycharlotte989875
  • ei34ei34 member
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Ditto the grief counseling.  LW has experienced a lot of loss recently and needs an outlet.  They're 100% wrong to be judging their SIL the widow right now.
    short+sassy
  • You've been through a lot of loss recently, and I'm sorry for that. I think it's essential that you seek counseling for your grief as soon as possible. 

    I understand why you're unhappy about what happened with your father's and brother's rings, but I think your SIL having those rings made into other jewelry for your kids was a lovely and meaningful gesture (and not an unusual one).  While I don't think it would've hurt for her to run it by the rest of you first, I also think you should respect THEIR grief as well and how they have chosen to honor your family members and keep a piece of your father and brother with them.

    As for your grandmother's jewelry, I agree with @Casadena that it's okay to ask about it once. But if SIL says no, you need to accept that answer and let it go, and not hold it against her.
    Just realized I said "your kids" and not "her kids" meaning the SIL's kids. Whoops! 

    And good point from PP that SIL should get to decide what happens with her dead husband's ring. I don't know why that didn't register with me before. LW has a lot of nerve expecting to have gotten that back.
    image
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