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Hax: Digging for cause of other woman’s death could add to pain of past

Carolyn Hax

Adapted from a recent online discussion:

Dear Carolyn:

Ten years ago, my then-fiance started a relationship with another woman and broke up with me to continue that. I wasn’t exciting enough or pretty enough and other insulting reasons. We never spoke again. At the time, it was crushing.

By the time I found someone else, it was too late for me to have children with my own eggs. It took years for me to recover from the whole thing.

I have moved on. I married someone wonderful and had a beautiful child through egg donation. I have a satisfying career and a good life. But a small part of me has always hoped the relationship between the ex and the other woman wouldn’t last.

I’ve never looked up the ex, but every few years, I’ve looked up the other woman. It turns out she died a couple of years ago. The obituary did not say what happened, and I am curious about it. I could find out anonymously for not very much money by hiring a private investigator. It seems tawdry to seek grim satisfaction from finding out more. I know it’s tacky. Is it wrong?

— Gruesome Private Investigation?

Sounds like a terrible idea for you emotionally, but you asked whether it was “wrong.” So I’ll ask you: Would you tell your husband, to his face, that you’re doing this?

“No” equals wrong.

I’m addressing the emotional anyway: The way your ex ended things was, apparently, horrible. I say “apparently” because I’m seeing only your version; falling for someone else is not inherently evil.

And, of course, it’s crushing when a relationship ends that you had thought would be for life, and it’s normal not to hope they live happily ever after. I am not questioning these elements.

Where I question your reasoning is in the “always” — in continuing to want a bad ending for this couple, even now after you got your wish.

Breakups hurt, but they’re common. Engagements get broken. Isn’t it time for you — for your own peace of mind — to write an epilogue to the story where you realize you and your former fiance just weren’t right for each other? And maybe you and your husband, and he and the other woman, were right for each other? And that your traumatic breakup didn’t just take things from you, but also, albeit painfully, put things in proper order — like re-breaking a bone to set it correctly?

Digging for the cause of death is to do the bidding of your darker nature. Satisfaction awaits in your better nature, I believe — in putting victimhood to bed.

Re: Investigation:

Of course you’re curious; I’d be curious, too. But what would you gain by finding out whether she died of an illness versus an accident? How would you feel if she committed suicide? I bet if you imagined the different results an investigation could give you, you’d realize you don’t really want to know after all.

— Anonymous

Makes sense to me. Thanks.

Email Carolyn at, and follow her on Facebook at

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