Two and a half years after Doug died suddenly, I had dealt with most of "his" stuff and "our" stuff....except for one thing - my wedding dress.

burning the wedding dress

I was tired of seeing it in the closet. It had begun to feel baggage I was carrying around from a life that was over.

We didn't have children. No one I know would ever want to wear the dress. I didn't want it to end up at the Salvation Army where someone might use it as a Halloween costume.

Since we cremate people, I figured cremating the dress would be fitting. So I decided to burn it.

But when? I chose the anniversary of our first date. Also, on that day, a year later, Doug had proposed.

I donned my Wellies and brought the gown down to the lake. I pushed a shepherd's crook into the lake bottom. I hung the dress up on the crook. It was drizzling out. The wind was blowing the dress around like a sail.

I touched a wind-resistant butane torch to the hem, and waited for it to go up in a blaze of glory. Instead - nothing. It wouldn't light. The cloth must have been fire-resistant - probably to prevent Bride Bonfires.

So I soaked the dress with gasoline. Once again, I touched the torch to it. This time it flared up. Melted teardrops of fire fell sizzling into the water.

With a glass of wine in hand, I watched it burn. I don't know what I expected to feel, but I couldn't recognize the emotion. It wasn't sadness, or anger, or even relief. Perhaps the closest description was a dull ache of puzzled emptiness.

Once it was done, I had thought a weight would be lifted. But nothing was subtracted. I suppose because what the dress represented was internal, versus external. Still, I felt burning it was the right thing for me to do.





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