The Ring Cycle

Pin It

The wedding ring issue. What to do, what to do?

John wore a ring that we bought together, engraved with our initials and the date of our marriage. At some point in the ICU he was puffed up with fluids. One of his marvelous nurses suggested that he take it off while he still could, since she would have to cut it off otherwise. I don’t think he ever removed his ring, even during his idiotic affairs. I slipped it on my own finger, since we didn’t want to lose it—and there it remained for quite some time.

It’s a dilemma to know what to do with the rings. I didn’t remove my wedding ring for a good long time, in fact for nearly a year. I experimented with putting different rings in place of my engagement ring, although I had also done that when John was still alive. Around the date of our wedding anniversary, I bought myself a strong gold necklace and put his ring on that, along with a gold charm of the Space Needle and a gold charm of the state of Texas given to me many years ago by a dear friend. The three symbolize the journey of our life together—we met in Texas, we parted in Seattle. At the same time, I shifted my own wedding ring—which had been my grandmother’s, engraved with their initials and their wedding date in 1918—to my right hand and it feels right there.

The other day, I was chatting with a widow friend who had celebrated her 50th wedding anniversary in October of 2008. Her husband died in March of 2009. Three weeks later, she was playing bridge with some friends when one suddenly said, “Oh, I’m so pleased to see you’re still wearing your wedding rings!” Three weeks after he died, following fifty years of marriage. For heaven’s sake. Was she supposed to take them off the minute he died? What for? To signify her single-hood? To catch herself another man? Just because she wasn’t technically “married” any longer? I’m certain that the rings were the last thing on her mind, but even if they weren’t, she can wear whatever jewelry she wants, widowed or not. And that particular jewelry, symbolism aside, had been on her hand for fifty years, longer in the case of the engagement ring! I’m sure it didn’t even cross her mind until someone pointed it out. That’s a shame.

Another friend had divorced her philandering husband and flung her rings from the deck of a Washington State Ferry into Puget Sound. Sounds cathartic, doesn’t it? She was, of course, smart enough to remove the diamonds first. I think there’s a certain anger toward the symbolism of the rings which happens in divorce but isn’t there in the case of widowhood. I was certainly disgusted at the rings when John was the one doing the philandering. I can understand wanting to fling them into the deepest, coldest water I could find.

But as it is, I still wear rings on my left ring finger. I just like it. Partly, it reminds me of the idea of being married and everything that meant. Symbolically, like a nun. But truthfully, I have several lovely rings and only have two fingers they fit. One of them is the traditional wedding ring finger. So there you go. If you want to know my status, well, don’t be afraid to ask. But you should know what the answer is: I’m a widow. I’m no longer married. And I wear lots of rings.

UPDATE: July 2009—Oddly, I’ve developed some arthritis in the middle joint of my left pinky finger. Many years ago, I sliced the side of it open on some glass and had restoration surgery done on it, which has probably accellerated the inevitable arthritis I’ll be getting in all my joints. But the joint has become somewhat sensitive and was rubbing against the ring I was wearing on my wedding-ring-finger. Therefore: I had to remove the ring. Perhaps a sign of some kind? A goose from beyond to remove the symbolism? Just getting old and creaky? Who’s to say. At any rate, I’m now ringless on my left hand and my joints feel better.

Related Posts

39 Responses to: The Ring Cycle

  1. Malin says:

    I never thought of this until someone commented on me wearing my ring still…..I was widowed nearly 2 years ago but don’t feel ready to take it off yet……the connection was not broken by us, not our choice so what’s the harm in keeping it on? Thanks for bringin this subject up!!

  2. PracticalWidow says:

    I think the critical point there is “what’s the harm”? If it makes you feel alright, then fine. Wearing of rings is symbolic, it does mean a particular thing. Wearing of particular clothing styles also carries symbolism. So long as we’re all OK with that, well hey, whatever works. I like wearing my rings, they keep a connection for me that feels right. Glad to hear you’ve found what’s right for you.

  3. Mark says:

    My wedding ring was always a little tight and I have just had it cut off after breaking a bone in my hand. My wife died 18 months ago, I miss her desperately and have wondered if I should get the ring mended, and put it back on my left ring finger. This discussion has helped, thank you. It is obviously the right thing to do.

  4. Georgia Vallejos says:

    After I was widowed, I had no intention of taking off my wedding rings. However, about three or four years later, that choice was made for me when my rings became too tight to wear. Not only would I have to get a new band, but the center stone was also in need of repair, so I decided to retire my wedding rings to my safe, and get a widow’s ring to wear. It was the right choice for me. Not wearing any ring wouldn’t feel right – it would be as if I had never married or was divorced. I love the widow’s ring – it is who I am now, so I relate to it. Also, I feel like I am honoring my husband’s memory by wearing it. It is just a white gold solitare with a black sapphire in the middle, surrounded by diamonds. Like wedding rings, a widow’s ring can be any kind of ring, but traditionally has a black stone of some sort.

  5. PracticalWidow says:

    What a great concept, I hadn’t heard of this before, but I think it’s a nice idea. And I especially love that it feels so right for you.

  6. Adele says:

    My ever lovin’ man passed on Sept. 19th of 2012 at home in his chair…..I was always afraid to wear my rings because I have water weight on and off and I didn’t want to loose them. 3 weeks after he passed I had been wearing his ring on my right hand because my fingers were larger..and I lost his ring.
    It’s horrible! It is somewhere between the bedroom and the truck. I have taken apart the sink drain..and still do not have hot water in my bathroom because of it.
    I have been on my hands and knees looking with one of those 5000000 candle power lites. And the next step I have is to buy a metal detector.(I”m saving up for).
    So now, I am so afraid to wear any of my wedding rings at all in fear of losing them.
    Now I am looking for a ring that I can wear on my ring finger that tells the story without my words…..and my tears.
    I KNOW that he is close to me. And ‘that’ means more to me than anything…any material object …or words.
    It just hurts that I lost the ring that he never took off. The ring that had been so worn down from all the things that he had ever worked on that all of the delicate engraving was so gone. The ring that was worn so thin in the inside area that it looked like it would just break right through.
    THAT ring told a story of a man that loved his wife so much that and worked so hard to take care of his family and ……i’m crying and can’t see to type….sorry

  7. Pumpkin_59 says:

    my husband died in dec .. He had become a acholic and our marriage been strained for quite a while before he died …i only wore my rings when i was out in public for hair appts or nail appts & ect .. The day before he died i put on my rings odd.. i was visting my parents and got phone call he died .. been wearing them since but still fighting the negitive last 2 yrs of marriage I had been thinking of divorce before he died… been looking at my wedding ring and engagement ring and anniv ring decideing to move on with life not to date but to get job after yrs of not working and ect… Id only been marrieed 7rs to him :(

  8. barbara says:

    My husband passed away very suddenly, said goodbye and kissed in the morning got a call from the doctors office he had collapsed after a stress test and was in critical condition, he was already dead when the office had called my house. 7 months have passed since he died. We were married 17 years together 20 yrs had know him since i was 13 I was 47 when he died. I do not think I will ever take off my engagement ring or wedding band, because I am still married and will always be, my husband is here with me just not physically. I do not think taking off your ring or keeping it on is right or wrong, I think it depends on what is right for the surviving spouse. For me right now it stays it might change I do not know.

  9. PracticalWidow says:

    So sorry about your sudden loss. Your ring solution sounds perfect for you. I find a great deal of comfort, even years out from J’s death, in wearing our rings. These days I wear my rings on the right and wear his ring either on a necklace or on either hand. But I’m never without it.

  10. golfnow.com Promo code 2013 says:

    Hi! I’ve been following your website for a long time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Porter Tx! Just wanted to mention keep up the great work!

  11. Katie says:

    My husband passed away from cancer on 1-29-12 after battling for 16 months. We married at a young age of 20 and was widowed at the young age of 46. My husband had not worn his ring for many years due to his type of employment around equipment where a ring could catch so I have been trying to figure out what to do with his ring. I saw the post on the widow ring and I am thinking of taking his band to my jeweler to see if something can be made like that for me. Thanks for the idea.

  12. Darla says:

    My husband passed away suddenly from a heart attack two years ago. We had been married 29 years. I took my ring off about 4 months later, had the diamonds removed, the gold melted down and had a beautiful cross pendant made out of it. My cross can be worn around my neck.at all times and know that he is still with me.

  13. PracticalWidow says:

    I think that’s lovely, what a good idea. I love the idea of forging something new blended together from what you shared and what was so meaningful. Thanks for sharing that with us.

    —the practical widow

  14. Karen Martin says:

    My husband died of cancer June 9, 2012 after 44 years of marriage. I’ve been struggling with when to take off my wedding rings. I have his in a drawer and now I know what to do with his. Tomorrow would have been our 46th anniversary and as soon as I finish cleaning my rings, I’ll be wearing them and doing so comfortably. You see, I really love the rings and it just seems wrong to have them in a safe deposit box when they belong with me and all the memories. So glad I found your blog.

  15. Michelle says:

    My husband died 3 weeks ago today. We both lost our wedding rings about a year ago in a boating incident and I have been devistated ever since his passing that we would never have the chance to replace them. We were married just short of 20 years. Our anniversary was 17 days after his passing. I been wearing a different ring on my ring finger since his passing because I was afraid people would notice my empty finger and get the wrong impression. But I want something special ob that finger and I read the reply about a widows ring. I am researching jewerly designs now to have somethibg special made. Thanks for your article and thanks to my fellow widows/widowers for their ideas and replys. Mrs Daniel P Williams Jr (now and forever)

  16. Francesca says:

    Oh Michelle, our husbands died around the same time. I sympathize deeply with your grief. I keep miy wedding band on my left ring finger. I know that the death dissolved the VOWS we made, but, in the words of the Christian scriptures (I Corinthians, Chapter 13) Love itself never dies. My hubby died after a brief and scary illness–pulmonary fibrosis. We had been married only 8 years but were soulmates from the start. All of us who comment on this post have their own beliefs and traditions. My husband was a Christian and so am; I. Our belief is that Love is Eternal. They had to remove his wedding band in ICU because of swelling. Broke my heart. But our wedding bands to me symbolize the blessing of our love for each other, a love that transformed us forever.

  17. Meredith says:

    Our rings have a history. We had bands designed and made with a unique cherry blossom and gum leaf design as an attractive symbol of our heritage (Japan for G., Australia for me). The jeweler kept asking when our wedding was, and we kept reminding her we were together, wanted to wear rings to show that, but had no current plans to marry. We married in the hospital after G. was diagnosed with late stage cancer, we hoped we would grow old together, but we suddenly wanted to be married for as long as we could be. The rings we had worn for nearly two years were taken off, blessed by our priest, and replaced as wedding rings. We had 16 days of married life, 10 of those days in the hospital. G passed away on Sept 16 this year, not quite two months ago. G’s ring fits perfectly on my ring finger of my right hand, and perfectly compliments my ring, which remains on my left hand. These very personal symbols of our love and life together will stay just where they are for now, I am ‘only’ 48, not sure what life has in store for me, but I love to turn G’s ring gently on my finger and bring back that beautiful moment when we promised ourselves to each other publically, the way we had privately many years before.

  18. Colleen says:

    Complicated issue. I’m 30, I was widowed at 28 after 7 months of marriage. He fought cancer for 3 of the 4 years we were together. I focus on how lucky I am to have found my soul mate when so many people miss out

    Wearing it on my left hand, lots of people asked about my husband – and I can’t respond without my eyes welling up with years – 2 years later. I’m okay talking about him when I’m ready, but not when I’m caught off guard.

    I wear them on my right hand- but I switch rings (he bought me 3 over those years). I also took his wedding band, full of diamonds (he called it his superbowl ring) and made a ring for me. It’s hard to wear though – people always comment on it.

    I’m just not sure what the answer is… I think being 30 complicates it all. Maybe not…

  19. Page says:

    My husband passed away in Feb 2013 after a long illness. He was a Vietnam Vet and poisoned by Agent Orange. We were married for 30 years. He was my prom date and knew me better than anyone else ever will. Wanted to do something special for the first Christmas without him so took his wedding ring and turned it into a pair of earrings. I liked the symbolism of splitting the ring since my heart is broken, but at the same time changing it into something different. My rings are still comfortingly on my finger.

  20. PracticalWidow says:

    I love taking the “superbowl” ring and making a ring for you. All these years later, I have not gone a day without John’s ring being with me–on a necklace or on my hand. I don’t know if there’s really an answer per se, but I think you’ve got a good solution that works for you.

  21. PracticalWidow says:

    Earrings, what a nice idea!

  22. Barbie L says:

    My soulmate passed on 10-11-12; We were together 6 years – then married for 15 months. Thank you for the ideas. My husband’s ring is a large distressed silver band. I’m thinking of sizing it down so I could wear it on my thumb. My engagement ring is a Marquise and it fits right in the middle of the double band with diamonds. I’m still looking for what to do with my rings. They are so perfect and beautiful I want to wear them but just not sure which finger to re-size them for.

  23. Barbie L says:

    UPDATE: this morning when I went into my jewelry draw to retrieve my rings, I grabbed a ring box to put them in for transportation. When I opened it I just cried. Inside was a beautiful gold and silver band that my husband had given me to wear in times when I didn’t want to wear the diamond – like when we went camping or boating!!!! What a wonderful gift to find from him. I now have a RING FROM HIM to wear on my ring finger!!!!

  24. PracticalWidow says:

    What a wonderful discovery and a beautiful solution!

  25. Lisa says:

    Thanks for your blog and everyone’s responses. I am 38 and lost my husband a few weeks ago. I had no idea my rings would be an issue, but they are. On…off…a new ring…no idea what is right for me, but hard.

  26. Madathim says:

    Pumpkin_59: I lost my husband of 20 years to cancer. We too had a difficult relationship, and I now realize that our difficulties must have been caused by his illness. I miss my husband but am so angry at him for not trying harder and sooner to take care of himself. When he was healthy he worked hard, drank coffee non-stop, stayed out late to drink with his coworkers, ignored the wife and kids at home. When he became ill his vanity regarding his hair prevented him from continuing with chemo. I am glad to have stuck by him and cared for him right up to the end so that I don’t have any guilt weighing on my mind. I feel that I am better off without him, but it is very clear the teens he left behind are not and I am bitter about the mess I’m left with. I still wear my wedding ring–I earned that status (and the right to be left alone!)

  27. Tracy says:

    I’m a 47 year old widow. My husband and I were married for 28 years and dated 4 years prior to that. He passed away in 2012 and I then took my rings off and put them in a secure location. I’ve found myself putting them back and wearing them again after two years. I see people staring and wanting to inquire but I guess out of respect they don’t. Is it inappropriate that I am choosing to wear them again?

  28. Melissa Hunt says:

    My husband passed away January 29th, 2014 by choice. Monday would have been our 10th wedding anniversary. I’m only 30 and had spent half my life with him. I was wondering if you knew of a solution to a widows ring. We didn’t have any wedding rings. I miss him terribly as we have 3 young boys I have to raise on my own while trying to build a career in the USAF. Thank you for your story.

  29. kennaday says:

    I lost my husband in July 2013. I leave my rings on because I didn’t get a divorce, why should I take them off, is what I ask myself. I am not looking for someone else. Someone will just have to accept it of they are interested in me. I tried replacing it with a different ring for a while but it didn’t feel right. I felt like I was breaking a bond I wasn’t ready for. Plus I still want to be left alone and the ring does the trick

  30. mindy says:

    I am 33 years old and was married for almost three years. My husband passed on Sept 10th 2013. I still wear my ring and his on my right hand. He always wore it and they had to take it off of him in the icu. It’s been hard but I feel like the rings help. I like the idea of a widows ring. I’ve never heard of that before…

  31. Suki says:

    I’m so glad I found this blog. My husband of 14 years died on April 27, 2014. I’m 55 and totally shocked to find myself a widow. We had a very good marriage and now my world is turned upside down and I’m in serious grief. Rings are just one of the confusing things about this new unwanted reality.

  32. Cindy says:

    I lost my husband on Christmas Day 2013, he was only diagnosed 2 weeks before with liver cancer, We would have celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary in June, we were very close in everything that we did and I miss him with every breath I take, I have not even thought about removing my wedding rings and I wear his wedding ring on a chain around my neck along with a diamond heart (the 1st piece of jewelry he every gave me) maybe in time I will be able to remove it but for now it stays and I really don’t feel the need to explain it to anyone, we shared a special bond and I really don’t know if I will ever meet anyone to fell his shoes

  33. Margaret says:

    I lost my husband on February 2014 the day before Valentines Day after 27 years of marriage as he left the house to go buy my Valentines flowers and got back in his car after picking them up and had a massive heart attack in his car within minutes of driving home. I will never forget that night when my children and I had to go and pick up his car that the police had moved off the road and when I opened the door my flowers and card were sitting on the passenger seat with broken glass everywhere where they had to break the window to get him out. He was my best friend, my soulmate and I miss him more with each passing day the pain is so unbearable. He suffered from uncontrolled diabetes and due to swelling sometimes he would have to remove his wedding band for a day or 2 and I was so upset those first few days after he passed that I could not find his ring after searching all over the house so I went to bed that night and asked him to come to me in my sleep and show me where it was and the next day I just got up went downstairs and found it. I still wear my rings and don’t really know when the right time will be to remove it as for now it doesn’t feel right for me to take it off…maybe on the one year anniversary I will be ready but for now it’s a comfort and I couldn’t handle looking down at my finger right now and seeing it empty. Nobody ever can prepare you for the loss of a spouse or how painful and lonely your life is, trying to find a new normal is the most difficult when you are so used to doing everything together, just the simplest things you do can be so very painful without them. My heart goes out to everyone who has posted here!

  34. Jim Wheeler says:

    Not many notes from men. My wife died less than a month ago. Was sick since December. Never thought of death. Finding getting along tough. My wedding ring is still on. The ring was put on in public and I was going to take it off at the funeral service, but didn’t. I am lonely. Things are suppose to get better. Not yet. My thinking is the ring stays on until I can remove them.

  35. Amanda says:

    I am a 22 year old widow. My husband died from cancer he had been battling for nearly 4 years. We were high school sweethearts and we dated for close to 7 years this coming august. We married in November 2013 and he passed shortly after on December 3 2013. He was my best friend, my shoulder to lean on and my motivation for everything that I do. His one wish before he passed was to marry the girl of his dreams and I was it. It was the best day of our lives and I replay every moment of it to this day. In July it will be 7 months since he has passed and I still have no idea what I want from life. How to move on and what to do with his things… I’m young and conflicted with what I should even try to do anymore.

  36. CAT says:

    “All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” Hellen Keller. I spent over half my life with the man who I still deeply love, with all of my heart and soul. So, when a few of my friends gave me a hard time about still wearing my wedding ring my response to them was not kind. Then, I started thinking about their comment. I’m certainly not ready to date! That being said, if I continue to wear my ring, am I shutting doors, and closing myself off to being emotionally ready for the future?

  37. Michelle says:

    He was murdered in 2007, I was devastated, I went into a depressive gloomy time that lasted 4 years. My 2 small kids gave me motivation to even stay alive. At first I wore my ring because I was in denial that this was even happening to me, then after I passed that phase, it was so people wouldn’t judge me at outings with my kids like I had them out of wedlock. Why did I care? Because I was guilty of judging people like that in the past. After 5 years, I took it off, looking at it daily was holding me in that depressive state. I realized that I didn’t have to prove anything to anyone, I just needed to get well & survive for my kids & for me!

  38. Leslie says:

    Ah, the complicated issue of the rings. My husband of 30 years died just 9 months ago, in October 2013 and I miss him every hour of every day. We had been close friends since I was 18 and at age 54 I suddenly had to figure how to exist without him. He had been unable to wear his rings for nearly 5 years before his death due to circulation problems, and that upset him because they meant a lot to him. After checking with me last summer he promised his wedding band to our oldest son who was then newly engaged. Another ring, a family heirloom, was promised to our younger son who now wears it. I removed my own rings one weepy night a couple of months after my husband’s death and put them away with his wedding band, but my ring finger looked shockingly bare and felt strange. After reading about ‘widows rings’ here awhile later I dug out a diamond and dark blue sapphire ring his favourite grandmother had left to me years ago. Worn where my wedding ring once was, it still reminds me of my husband, but feels more symbolic of this new stage in my life. Thank you for the inspiration.

  39. Beth says:

    Widowed this week after 38 years of marriage. My husband was also an alcoholic. Was talking at dinner about rings with my sister and sister-in-law. It hadn’t occurred to me to take mine off but it’s early days yet. My concern at the moment is that my husband’s wedding ring and another one with his birthstone were removed in emergency and lost. I wouldn’t have worn them but would like to give them to my kids. I appreciate the work done trying to keep him alive but feel cheated and even out financially. We have been passed from one hospital department to another with no one taking responsibility.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

« Previous Next »

Scroll to top