What Does A Widow(er) Do With The Wedding Rings


by Richard Dri

A RING IS A SYMBOL OF “TILL DEATH DO US PART”. HOW DOES A SURVIVING SPOUSE PROPERLY HONOUR THE RINGS THAT ACCOMPANIED THAT VOW? 

When Mary died, I tucked her wedding and engagement rings into the safe. I’m still not sure what to do with them – or my own rings.

My wife Mary passed away three years ago. At that point, we’d been married 30 years, and I wore my wedding band every single day of our marriage, never once taking it off. And I kept wearing it after her death.

Then just around the first anniversary of her passing, I felt the urge to take the ring off. Why? I wasn’t completely sure. But as I look back, I think it marked the moment I was ready to move on. From then on, as time passed, I began connecting with old friends, resumed riding with my old cycling teams, and yes because it was inevitable, started dating.

RINGS IN SEARCH OF A HOME

I had stored Mary’s wedding rings in our safe, so logically I felt that’s where mine should reside as well. It lived side-by-side with Mary’s until one of my sons asked a very serious – and very provocative question.

Dad, he asked, could he have mom’s engagement ring to present to his girlfriend as her own ring when he proposed?

I slept on it. Ultimately, I decided this wasn’t what I wanted. But why?

WHERE DOES A RING BELONG? A HIGHLY PERSONAL DECISION

But I told you this was a personal story and, to be frank, my decision was all about me. The rings remained in the safe.

I still want the rings in my life. I want to know I can go to the safe at any time and hold our rings in my hand. I want, I need – that closeness, that connection.

I also wasn’t ready to see the ring on any other woman’s finger. That may change one day, but I gave them to her, and they’re ours. They’re a tangible symbol of our commitment and love for each other.

SO MANY POSSIBILITIES. BUT NONE FELT RIGHT…. FOR ME.

So, the rings sit in the safe. I pondered other options, but they didn’t work for me. That said, I’d like to share them because you may feel them right for you.

Continue wearing the ring on the left hand. Not for me. While I’ll always love Mary, my reality is I’m no longer married. It feels dishonest to me.

Wearing the ring on the right hand. While this makes perfect sense and many widows/widowers do this, it’s simply too uncomfortable and unwieldy for me. I’m just not a jewelry guy.

Wearing the rings as a necklace. Another very viable option – for someone else. I tried it out, but the rings were heavy, and I constantly fretted the chain would break and I’d lose the rings forever.

Refresh the ring and wear it. I can absolutely see how a widow or widower could add a stone or alter the shape and create something entirely new that still honors their partner. But again, I’m not a jewelry guy.

Donate the rings. When I finally downsize my home, I plan to sell my furniture and donate the proceeds to the Princess Margaret cancer foundation, which did so much for Mary. So why not her rings? It’s a perfect tribute. Maybe by that time, I can let go. Maybe not.

Consider the rings an heirloom and specify who inherits them in the Will. I like this idea a lot. I get to keep the rings, and once I die, they are inherited by my children, then passed to a grandchild, a great-grandchild, a great-great…. well, you get the idea.

Put it away (at least for now). That’s where I am right now. That may change, and when that day comes, I’ll re-explore all the options I laid out above. But I’m still not ready to let go, so the safe remains my go-to.

ULTIMATELY, THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG DECISION

Like those who’ve passed, a wedding ring goes on a new journey after that passing. It lives on, along with the memory of the wearer. Wherever Mary’s rings find themselves in the future, even tucked away, they’ll continue to honour her forever.

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