"...meaning is not in the thing, meaning is in the story."
~ Patrick McKenna Lynch Smith, Leaving the Life: A true story of love, loss and gratitude
When your spouse dies, you are left with many dilemmas. One of them is what to do with all their "stuff." In particular - what to do with his wedding ring - and your own.
When I said my vows with Doug, it was supposedly "until death do us part." Death has parted us. Now what? Technically, my marital status has changed. I am no longer his wife - I am his widow, like it or not. And I still have both our rings.
Apparently, there really is no wedding ring-widow etiquette. Some people take their ring off the day they lose their spouse, as it is a too painful reminder. Some can't bear to take it off and wear it until they die. (Note: This may prompt questions about your spouse. It may fend off members of the opposite sex, which you may or may not want later on.) Some continue to wear it until they achieve some form of closure.
Here is what I chose to do, for now.
Doug's ring used to have a rope engraved on it (Doug was a mountain climber.) The rope faded over the years, from being beaten repeatedly on rocks and other hard surfaces. (Doug was many things - gentle was not one of them.) It is big - almost twice as big as my finger. And empty now.
I could have had his wedding ring cremated with him, but I wanted to keep it. I wear it near my heart, on a white gold chain he gave me. I don't know if I will always wear it, but it brings me a measure of comfort now. Sometimes, when I am missing him most, and needing him most, I slip my finger through the empty hole, where it is surrounded by the smooth metal that he wore every day.
What about the big beautiful sparkling diamond engagement ring Doug could not afford decades ago, but gave me anyway? I wear it on my right hand, along with the wedding band it is fused to. It reminds me of the happiness we waited so long for, and were so grateful for.
Of course, what you do with your wedding bands after death is a personal choice. It is no one's business but your own. So ask yourself what gives you the most comfort and the least pain?
Here are some options, in no particular order. Some are irrevocable, so take your time, as later you may want to do something different with the ring(s.) None of these are right or wrong, in and of themselves. When you read through the options, you'll know which feels right to you at this time.
Whatever you choose, recognize that it will probably involve sadness in some form. But do try not to feel guilty about it. You've had enough heartache.
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