Honestly, I thought they handled the death well. Carley's death was the first time a video game made me sit up and shout at the TV. I made the decision to leave Lily there before I knew the option even existed and I would have killed her with my bare hands if they had let me. Lee got into that van and was shocked, he hadn't come to terms with it and neither had I. That's what good story telling does, it elicts strong emotions from you and sparks great debates like this.
I've had a few moments of intense emotion, when the brothers threatened Clem, I straight lost my shit and choose to run at them. It didn't even matter that I knew I'd probably be shot. Waking up I was first worried about Clem and then after I was sure she was safe I accessed the situation. I'm a stone cold gamer, most of the time I play games I only think of what will benefit me the most or if it's a Mass Effect game where that's less important I pick the way I'm going to play. These moments through all that out and made it real. I cared about the characters as if they were people in those moments.
So what if they made the decision to remove the character because of money, stuff like that happens. If that's true, and I'm not convinced it is, they used what they had to do to craft a memorable experience and show you all that you cared about some pixels and 1's and 0's more than many of you ever had. Carley's death showed you anyone can die, but it also drove home the fact
that anyone can snap in your group, people YOU trust can kill people YOU care about. This group was not unitied, hell they wouldn't have even been near each other save the circumstances. Lily was unstable and this was her breaking point. I had one of my own, I killed the first brother, didn't even think of it just stabbed him. The decision made sense to me and I was happy with it till I realized Clem had seen it. I rationalized it to her but when she asked me if I had to do it I knew the answer was no. I didn't kill the second brother and I didn't steal the food because they were the right things to do. Those decisions mattered, they mattered to me because I didn't become a monster. Will I see any real changes in the game? I have no idea and don't care, the way I felt was worth it regardless. I felt good picking Carley, she was objectively a better choice and a more personable character for me. The actions were different, the feel of the character was different.