To wear the wedding ring, or not wear the wedding ring, that is the question. And honestly, the answer is very personal and rarely ever taken lightly.
Often we widows will receive opinions, not always solicited, from friends and family regarding our choice. Sadly, I remember sticking my nose into my mom’s business on this very topic. My dad passed on May 24, 2006, and about a year later, I remember asking my mom if she was going to take her ring off. At the time, I remember thinking that it wasn’t healthy for her to be holding on to a relationship that was over. Oh, how ignorant I was of deep grief and the loss of a bonded relationship.
My mom did eventually take her ring off. I promise I didn’t hound her. It was her choice. I was going to take her ring and my dad’s ring and make a piece of jewelry. I pictured their bands overlapping in like an infinity sign and my birthstone in the center. However, that hasn’t happened yet. Maybe someday. Maybe not. Time will tell I suppose.
I never had a wedding ring exactly. I had an engagement ring that I used as my wedding ring because I didn’t want a second band. You see, I have short, stubby fingers, and two bands seemed like too much. Okay, they aren’t that stubby. I probably could have gone with a thin wedding band, but it didn’t really seem necessary. So, I have been wearing my “wedding” ring since September 3, 2000 even though we didn’t get married until June 30, 2001.
Sure, I took my wedding ring off to be repaired, cleaned, and occasionally to sleep. On rare occasions, I even forgot to wear it outside of the house because I took it off the night before. However, up until December 6, 2018, the thought of taking that ring off for any significant length of time never really crossed my mind. I loved Jeffrey dearly. Even during difficult times, I fought for us and for our relationship. My ring has always been a wonderful symbol of our commitment.
Around this time last year, about 6 months after Jeff passed, I took my ring off for a short bit. I don’t remember making an actual decision, but I feel like I took it off for something and just never put it back on. Hot mess is how you would have described me back then! I was drinking way more than normal. Which, to be honest, my normal is about 6 drinks per year. For about a month there, I was drinking like I was back in college. Okay, okay, not really like I was back in college, but it was way more than 6 drinks a year. I was being safe and not driving, but it just wasn’t a healthy situation. I had so many emotions, questions, and frustrations running through me all the time. Thankfully, my counselor helped me work through why I was behaving this way, and she also helped me figure out exactly how I was feeling. God love her! It didn’t take long at all and my wedding ring was back on my finger.
However, about a week ago, I decided it was time to take off my wedding ring again. This time it was an active decision that I put thought into. I realized that a wedding ring itself doesn’t actually mean anything. After our honeymoon, Jeff never wore his ring. He had a job where ring avulsion could very likely happen. Sure, it can happen to anyone at anytime, just ask Jimmy Fallon, but it is much more likely when you work in certain industries. Him not wearing his ring never meant that he didn’t love me or wasn’t fully committed to me. It mostly just meant that he didn’t want to tear his finger, but if we are being honest, it also meant that he didn’t like wearing jewelry. He was an outdoor, rugged kind of guy. I understood both of his reasons, and it was honestly a non-issue throughout our 17 years of marriage.
Please don’t think I am making light of a wedding ring at all, because I truly cherish mine and all that it represents. Someday, it will get passed down to our oldest child, Ali. Hopefully, she will cherish it for different reasons. I’m just realizing that the ring itself is an outward symbol that doesn’t change my inner feelings. Might someone see me not wearing my ring and think I’m “over him” or “moving on.” Sure, they might. They would be dead wrong though, and I can’t control what others think.
In truth, lately, I was finding that wearing my ring was intensifying my sadness. I would find myself just looking at it or touching it quite often and longing for Jeff. Longing for him to come dancing on into the room, tell me a joke, or give me some parenting wisdom. Desiring him to hold me. I’m always going to want those things, but I definitely don’t need anything to help stir those feelings up.
So, I realized maybe the time had come to take the ring off. A week later, I stand by my decision. Taking it off hasn’t made me feel less married. I’m not all of the sudden thinking about Jeff less often or desiring someone new. Nope, taking it off hasn’t changed me in any drastic way. If anything, the only change I have noticed is that I don’t find myself staring at it and longing in an unhealthy way for what can never be. Occasionally, I do find myself touching where it should be, but that doesn’t happen too often.
This was a decision that I needed to make for myself. I truly believe it is the right decision. Not sure how I will feel in a week, a month, or even six months from now. Maybe I will put it back on, maybe I won’t, and that is okay.
Widowhood brings about so many decisions. Sometimes we need to, or should, consult others, like family members, lawyers, or businesses about certain decisions that are thrown our way. However, Ladies, when it comes to your wedding ring, the decision is all yours. There is no right or wrong answer. Sure, like me you may find that you took it off for what personally were the wrong reasons and then put it back on, but that doesn’t make it wrong. This grief journey is a process, and we work through it as we go. You can decide to wear it occasionally, wear it forever, or take it off permanently, but whatever you decide, make sure you are okay with the decision. After all, that ring was given to you, and only you, as a symbol of the love and bond that you two share, and if death didn’t sever that bond, neither will any choice you make about your ring.