Wedding Woes

This LW has left me speechless.

Dear Prudence,

My husband and I work paycheck to paycheck. Getting something new means getting something from the local thrift store. We have two teenage sons, but last year had to take on our 10-year-old niece permanently. We tightened our belts a little more and were able to clothe and feed her properly, but she was sleeping on a blow-up air mattress and kept her stuff in plastic bins.

Ten months ago, a member of a neighboring church tragically lost their young daughter to cancer and couldn’t stand the sight of their little girl’s things. They donated them. Our preacher was able to pass on the bedroom set and many of the toys to us. It was a beautiful antique iron rod bed with a nearly new mattress and several well-built wooden bookcases and a hope chest that had been lovingly hand painted. My niece cried when we presented her with her new bedroom.

Recently, the original owners contacted us and told us they had made a mistake in their grief and wanted the items back. Not only did the items belong to their little girl but had been either family heirlooms (the bed frame came from a great aunt) or been decorated by them (the hope chest had been painted by the late grandmother).

My husband and I are not heartless, but we have a little girl to look out for ourselves. We discussed it and told the couple we would happily give everything back if they could replace everything with a similar good quality. They told us they were deeply in debt, had no money, and to find God in our hearts.

We offered them the choice of the bed or the painted shelves and hope chest, with the plan that I could take a few more shifts to replace the furniture. We tried, but the couple refused to compromise and ended up cursing us out multiple times. They said we were stealing from their dead daughter. They went public with their grievances, both on social media (which they later deleted) and in our small community.

Our pastor has approached us several times over this, and we have explained our side and showed her the text messages between us and the couple. While we grieve for them, we are not making our little girl sleep on the floor again. We gave the pastor the hope chest and a handwritten letter telling about our little girl’s struggles and how we empathize with the other family’s loss. Do you have any other advice on how to handle this?

— Hurt and Hoping  


Re: This LW has left me speechless.

  • Are you F*cking kidding me w/ both couples? 

    You can roll your eyes at all of this and truly they are also in the wrong but giving ultimatums was highly inappropriate when there is clearly some guilt that this couple has after they lost their child!

    Presumably your niece is not sleeping on an air mattress on that bed frame and while you are working paycheck to paycheck you do not NEED a bed frame to have a room.  LW, you're beyond in the wrong here to continue to hold this grudge or to tell your niece that you need to have your claws gripped into that bed frame. 

    You can find a cheap bed frame that will not require a child to sleep on the floor and even if she does, she will be on a mattress.  That you're looking at this as a black and white situation without looking to fix anything on your own is raising your niece with a truly despicable approach. 
    mrsconn23charlotte989875
  • Yeah, there's some middle ground here. "I'll put something out to my local barter and curb Facebook group and as soon as we come up with another bed frame that we can afford, I'll be happy to have you guys pick up this one."
    STARMOON44MesmrEweei34
  • Everyone here is wrong but asking a family that lost a young child to pay for new furniture for you is ludicrous. I think the pastor should have intervened much earlier and the LW should return everything. 
    banana468MissKittyDangershort+sassy
  • Everyone here is wrong but asking a family that lost a young child to pay for new furniture for you is ludicrous. I think the pastor should have intervened much earlier and the LW should return everything. 
    I cannot imagine saying that to a grieving family even if they may have given away those items and have remorse now that they are in a second stage of grief.  The chutzpah to tell them that they OWE you new furniture is not something that would get them added to the top of the charity list. 
    charlotte989875levioosashort+sassy
  • VarunaTT said:
    I'm really sorry for the grieving family. 

    I've also been the little girl in this scenario and know what it's like to be poor AF and finally get some nice things, only to have them taken away b/c of things not in my control.  As an adult, wouldn't give it back either and I'd refuse to engage them.  They can have their stuff back when this little girl doesn't need it anymore.  
    This is where I'm at on this!  When the little girl using it is done with it, they can have it back, promise to take good care of it in the meantime, that's as close to middle ground solution.  Sure, they made the mistake, but asking for it back without suitable replacement or open timeline is **itty.  

    We actually had the previous owner to our house offer to purchase our bar top at the exchange rate of any replacement we wanted - it was the feature that "sold" the house for us buying it.   I told him simply if we ever considered moving from the house or replacing it/remodeling that area, he'd be our first call!  
    short+sassy
  • What bothers me the most is that LW and H agreed to give back all the niece's new stuff if the grieving parents could replace everything with something similar in quality.  LW mentions the couple is deeply in debt and I'll bet they are- that's something I've heard about, a cruel twist, you lose your child to cancer and then thousands or even millions of dollars of come through.  And the pastor has to stop getting involved unless the church is going to help out in some way?
  • VarunaTT said:
    I'm really sorry for the grieving family. 

    I've also been the little girl in this scenario and know what it's like to be poor AF and finally get some nice things, only to have them taken away b/c of things not in my control.  As an adult, wouldn't give it back either and I'd refuse to engage them.  They can have their stuff back when this little girl doesn't need it anymore.  
    This is the best solution.  The LW has no obligation to return any items because, if the grieving family had sold or given these things away to a thrift store, they'd be completely SOL and could never get them back.

    But, at the same time, I understand and agree with the LW that they want to return the family heirloom items back to the family.  Just not right now because their niece loves finally having bedroom furniture.  A niece that I'm guessing has also experienced some kind of trauma over the last year, hence why her aunt/uncle are now her guardians.

    Another good solution is it sounds like the grieving family doesn't want everything back.  Just the bedframe, hope chest, and bookshelves.  The LW already gave back the hope chest.  As the LW's family can afford to replace the other two items...or have similar items donated to them...they will return them.

    Used furniture has about the worst resale value ever.  It takes some time to look, but I'd bet they could find good quality used pieces for free or cheap, online.  Or cheap at a thrift store.  Well-built furniture can often be spruced back up with some paint.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
    MesmrEwe
  • VarunaTT said:
    I'm really sorry for the grieving family. 

    I've also been the little girl in this scenario and know what it's like to be poor AF and finally get some nice things, only to have them taken away b/c of things not in my control.  As an adult, wouldn't give it back either and I'd refuse to engage them.  They can have their stuff back when this little girl doesn't need it anymore.  
    This is the best solution.  The LW has no obligation to return any items because, if the grieving family had sold or given these things away to a thrift store, they'd be completely SOL and could never get them back.

    But, at the same time, I understand and agree with the LW that they want to return the family heirloom items back to the family.  Just not right now because their niece loves finally having bedroom furniture.  A niece that I'm guessing has also experienced some kind of trauma over the last year, hence why her aunt/uncle are now her guardians.

    Another good solution is it sounds like the grieving family doesn't want everything back.  Just the bedframe, hope chest, and bookshelves.  The LW already gave back the hope chest.  As the LW's family can afford to replace the other two items...or have similar items donated to them...they will return them.

    Used furniture has about the worst resale value ever.  It takes some time to look, but I'd bet they could find good quality used pieces for free or cheap, online.  Or cheap at a thrift store.  Well-built furniture can often be spruced back up with some paint.
    People find bed frames all the time and do fixer-upper things.

    There's something about the LW that isn't passing my smell test.  I also understand that I'm coming at this from a position of some privilege but I was 22 before I had a bed with more than a basic metal frame that held a box spring 4 inches off the floor.  I'm assuming that the girl's family isn't asking for a mattress to be returned so it isn't passing my smell test to say that the girl would be sleeping on the floor implying that she'd be back to the air mattress. 

    I DO think that if the LW really felt like this return was going to put them in a difficult position that the ultimatum wasn't the way to go but instead she needed to reach out to the pastor to say that returning the furniture once again puts them in need, to ask the family to reconsider if returning once the daughter was no longer needing was an option and if that isn't, they would truly appreciate if there were any other members of the church who had old furniture that they would share if they were no longer going to use it. 

    Ultimatums rarely go well and while it absolutely sucks I think the LW's approach leaves a lot to be desired. 
    charlotte989875
  • banana468 said:

    People find bed frames all the time and do fixer-upper things.

    There's something about the LW that isn't passing my smell test.  I also understand that I'm coming at this from a position of some privilege but I was 22 before I had a bed with more than a basic metal frame that held a box spring 4 inches off the floor.  I'm assuming that the girl's family isn't asking for a mattress to be returned so it isn't passing my smell test to say that the girl would be sleeping on the floor implying that she'd be back to the air mattress. 

    I DO think that if the LW really felt like this return was going to put them in a difficult position that the ultimatum wasn't the way to go but instead she needed to reach out to the pastor to say that returning the furniture once again puts them in need, to ask the family to reconsider if returning once the daughter was no longer needing was an option and if that isn't, they would truly appreciate if there were any other members of the church who had old furniture that they would share if they were no longer going to use it. 

    Ultimatums rarely go well and while it absolutely sucks I think the LW's approach leaves a lot to be desired. 
    I had a casual acquaintance who was extremely talented with fixing up furniture.  She'd scout out "curb finds", thrift stores, and freebie sites.  Then fix them up and sell the items for side income.  She often did whimsical, decorative painting for dressers and end tables.  It really opened my eyes to what creativity and skill could do.  I'd sometimes see a piece before she started and would think, "Yuck, I can see why someone would throw that away.  What can she possibly do with that."  Then I'd see it when it was finished and it was gorgeous and like a piece of art.

    Growing up, I had a nice bed frame my parents gave me when (I think) I was in jr. high.  But before that and after I went away to college, it was also just one of those metal frame ones.  It's still one of those basic, metal frames!

    Don't get me wrong, even a basic metal frame will cost money.  I think they're like 80-100 bucks which is nothing to sneeze at, especially for people scraping by.

    Though the LW was overstepping with wanting new, good quality furniture, this could have been handled better, all around. 
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • banana468 said:

    People find bed frames all the time and do fixer-upper things.

    There's something about the LW that isn't passing my smell test.  I also understand that I'm coming at this from a position of some privilege but I was 22 before I had a bed with more than a basic metal frame that held a box spring 4 inches off the floor.  I'm assuming that the girl's family isn't asking for a mattress to be returned so it isn't passing my smell test to say that the girl would be sleeping on the floor implying that she'd be back to the air mattress. 

    I DO think that if the LW really felt like this return was going to put them in a difficult position that the ultimatum wasn't the way to go but instead she needed to reach out to the pastor to say that returning the furniture once again puts them in need, to ask the family to reconsider if returning once the daughter was no longer needing was an option and if that isn't, they would truly appreciate if there were any other members of the church who had old furniture that they would share if they were no longer going to use it. 

    Ultimatums rarely go well and while it absolutely sucks I think the LW's approach leaves a lot to be desired. 
    I had a casual acquaintance who was extremely talented with fixing up furniture.  She'd scout out "curb finds", thrift stores, and freebie sites.  Then fix them up and sell the items for side income.  She often did whimsical, decorative painting for dressers and end tables.  It really opened my eyes to what creativity and skill could do.  I'd sometimes see a piece before she started and would think, "Yuck, I can see why someone would throw that away.  What can she possibly do with that."  Then I'd see it when it was finished and it was gorgeous and like a piece of art.

    Growing up, I had a nice bed frame my parents gave me when (I think) I was in jr. high.  But before that and after I went away to college, it was also just one of those metal frame ones.  It's still one of those basic, metal frames!

    Don't get me wrong, even a basic metal frame will cost money.  I think they're like 80-100 bucks which is nothing to sneeze at, especially for people scraping by.

    Though the LW was overstepping with wanting new, good quality furniture, this could have been handled better, all around. 
    I think that's where I am.

    Asking for the stuff back sucks.  And in any other environment I'd tell the givers to pound sand but this sounds like it's extenuating circumstances due to a tragic loss of a child so I'm attempting to look at this as a couple coming out of initial grief stages and realizing that they may want these items back.  They were also wrong.

    But it's the doubling down of saying your hand-me down items now need to be replaced by new that makes me roll my eyes at the LW.  LW could have handled that in so many other ways rather than to tell the grieving parents that if they wanted those items back then they needed to write a check. 
    charlotte989875ei34
  • banana468 said:
    banana468 said:

    People find bed frames all the time and do fixer-upper things.

    There's something about the LW that isn't passing my smell test.  I also understand that I'm coming at this from a position of some privilege but I was 22 before I had a bed with more than a basic metal frame that held a box spring 4 inches off the floor.  I'm assuming that the girl's family isn't asking for a mattress to be returned so it isn't passing my smell test to say that the girl would be sleeping on the floor implying that she'd be back to the air mattress. 

    I DO think that if the LW really felt like this return was going to put them in a difficult position that the ultimatum wasn't the way to go but instead she needed to reach out to the pastor to say that returning the furniture once again puts them in need, to ask the family to reconsider if returning once the daughter was no longer needing was an option and if that isn't, they would truly appreciate if there were any other members of the church who had old furniture that they would share if they were no longer going to use it. 

    Ultimatums rarely go well and while it absolutely sucks I think the LW's approach leaves a lot to be desired. 
    I had a casual acquaintance who was extremely talented with fixing up furniture.  She'd scout out "curb finds", thrift stores, and freebie sites.  Then fix them up and sell the items for side income.  She often did whimsical, decorative painting for dressers and end tables.  It really opened my eyes to what creativity and skill could do.  I'd sometimes see a piece before she started and would think, "Yuck, I can see why someone would throw that away.  What can she possibly do with that."  Then I'd see it when it was finished and it was gorgeous and like a piece of art.

    Growing up, I had a nice bed frame my parents gave me when (I think) I was in jr. high.  But before that and after I went away to college, it was also just one of those metal frame ones.  It's still one of those basic, metal frames!

    Don't get me wrong, even a basic metal frame will cost money.  I think they're like 80-100 bucks which is nothing to sneeze at, especially for people scraping by.

    Though the LW was overstepping with wanting new, good quality furniture, this could have been handled better, all around. 
    I think that's where I am.

    Asking for the stuff back sucks.  And in any other environment I'd tell the givers to pound sand but this sounds like it's extenuating circumstances due to a tragic loss of a child so I'm attempting to look at this as a couple coming out of initial grief stages and realizing that they may want these items back.  They were also wrong.

    But it's the doubling down of saying your hand-me down items now need to be replaced by new that makes me roll my eyes at the LW.  LW could have handled that in so many other ways rather than to tell the grieving parents that if they wanted those items back then they needed to write a check. 
    I agree with all of this- everyone could have handled it better but I give the pass to be the people grieving the loss of a child. 
  • VarunaTT said:
    I'm really sorry for the grieving family. 

    I've also been the little girl in this scenario and know what it's like to be poor AF and finally get some nice things, only to have them taken away b/c of things not in my control.  As an adult, wouldn't give it back either and I'd refuse to engage them.  They can have their stuff back when this little girl doesn't need it anymore.  
    I'm with you here 100%
    charlotte989875MyNameIsNotMesmrEwe
  • Little girl takes precedent.  Maybe even ask her - I know she is really, really young, but there is a way to tell her what is happening (leaving certain details out), and ask her if she would like to keep them or give them back.

    I agree with what a PP said - if this couple had given it away to a thrift store or sold it second hand, those items are gone.  I don't think they should have asked for them back.  It would have been more appropriate to say "when your niece outgrows them, instead of getting rid of them we want to have them back at that time".  What's done is done, you already gifted them.  

    Casadenashort+sassyMesmrEwe
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