Saturday, November 29, 2014

Taking The Rings Off

I passed another milestone this week, something I've been approaching and thinking about for a few months but have only now felt ready for - I took my wedding rings off.  

Well, to be more accurate, I moved them from my ring finger.  I had my wedding band re-sized and it now sits on my middle finger alongside Dan's wedding ring and a small eternity band that I bought myself to complete the set. While my engagement ring, which is much too beautiful to be put back in a box, is now on my right hand.  

For a really long time after Dan died I couldn't imagine ever being ready to take my rings off. He died six weeks after our wedding and to say I felt monumentally ripped off that I didn't get more time as his wife before becoming his widow is an understatement.  

I was still basking in my newly-wedded glow - stifling giggles when I said the words 'my husband' out loud; getting used to my new name and title of Mrs Collins; and catching myself staring dreamily at my wedding ring finger .  Then, way too quickly, he was gone and there's probably never been a more appropriate time to use the phrase 'the honeymoon was over'.  

When he died, the peple in our lives scrambled to try and make sense of how depression had taken this wonderful man so suddenly and without warning. I was petrified that they would look to me as somehow failing him or not being enough to keep him here. 

Thankfully, my fears were mostly unfounded but my rings were my security blanket - I clung them as symbolic and physical recognition that he loved me and he had wanted the whole world to know that. 

In moments of doubt when I would battle the feelings of abandonment and rejection, I'd clench my fist around my rings and let them reassure me that our marriage was real, our love was real and that even through the darkness of his depression he had opened his heart and given it to me. That had really happened.

After attending Camp Widow in July, I started thinking about what it would mean to take my rings off.  Both what it would mean to me, and what it might mean to others.  If truth be told, I have felt ready for a while now but it was the fear of others judging me or making assumptions that has held me back.  

I didn't want people to think that I had finished grieving Dan or had put our marriage behind me or that I was moving them to make way for someone else and was 'on the prowl' for a new partner. Because all of these assumption are obviously (to me anyway!) absurd and incorrect.  

I just really started to like the idea of moving my ring to be closer to Dan's. And the more I thought about it, the more right it felt.  It became more meaningful, to me, to wear them together as a sign of our union and an acknowledgment that he is still close to me and part of my story.  

To me, this became more symbolic than wearing my wedding and engagement rings on my wedding finger. Because (and these are my feelings only, they won't be everyone's truth) while Dan will always be my husband, our marriage is, very sadly, over in the traditional sense. I'll always love him and moving my rings hasn't changed that relationship at all, I just feel like it's more 'right' for me to change the way I wear them.  

So I took them off and waited for some sadness or sense of regret or panic ... and nothing came.  I think the fact that I didn't rush it has helped.  But all I felt was peace.  I like the way our rings look together, I think they are beautiful and I wear them with pride.  When people comment on them, or my engagement ring, I will relish the opportunity to explain their meaning and talk about Dan.  

I'd love to hear your own experiences on how you've moved through this milestone and what become right for you. 


  1. Hello Rebecca,
    I continued to wear my wedding ring on my left hand after he died, then I switched it to my right hand one year and one day after his death. It's much too nice to keep in a box and I don't want to melt it down. Switching hands made the most sense to me because I didn't want to be without my ring but keeping it where he placed it years ago was just too painful for me.

    I have skinny fingers and my husband wore a size 10 ring so I wasn't able to wear his wedding ring on my finger. He battled cancer for two years and whenever he had to stay in the hospital, I wore his ring on a chain around my neck. Every time he got out of the hospital, I gave it back to him. The final time he got out, he had lost so much weight that it kept slipping off his finger. He gave it to me and said "You may as well keep it. I can't wear it anymore." I promptly put it back on the chain around my neck.

    When he died in 2012, I thought I would keep his ring around my neck forever but it was too heavy both mentally and physically. We were married for 20 years and on that time period, I bought him 3 wedding rings - civil ceremony, church ceremony and 10 year anniversary. I had all 3 melted down into a heart with diamonds scattered throughout and an emerald in the middle (we're both May babies). I wear the heart around my neck on the same chain as I did before he died and even though it's still heavy, it lies flat against my chest which is nice.

    He'll always be my heart and he'll always be in my heart. We had a good marriage and even though "til death do us part" came much sooner than expected, nothing will end the love we shared.

  2. Hello, your transistion is a real one for sure.. It was 3 1/2 yrs when I took my rings off.. My rings had never Ben sized bigger after I put weight on thru the years, and became twice the woman I used to be.. Lol that was joke between us.. They actually cut blood flow off and it has ruined my ring fiingernail as it splits right down the middle????? Ironic.. 371/2 yrs wore them...they sit n box now for my grandchildren one day???? My husbands hands were so swollen funeral director put it on his pinky although not all way..:(...this thanksgiving was ruff even after 6 1/2 yrs. there was the empty chair, laughter was gone my heart I will always be his wife, I took those vows as covenant.. The day I took them off was reality check. He was gone...yes I hate we r part of this club.., but I'm glad we all had the experience of Love.. Wouldn't have changed best regards to u Rebecca an moving fwd..God has a plan for all of us..

  3. I am glad you did things your way. I am also a suicude widow. We didn't wear rings. We exchanged diamond stud earrings. I wear both if them now. Maybe someday I will pass them to my girls as pendants. Or maybe not. I'm not ready.

  4. I just took my ring into the jeweler this week to be sized for my right hand. I think I'll feel better when I have my ring back as I have felt a bit of panic without it. I was feeling similiarly, while I never wanted the end of our marriage, it happened. Your new ring set up is beautiful and a nice tribute.

  5. Heartbreaking (how short of time you had together ) and beautiful (what you chose to do with the rings.) I love the symbolism of how and why you chose to wear them that way. I can totally relate to the feeling of the rings making everything feel like it actually happened. I feel that way all the time, I would cling to my ring, and then, if you remember cuz I posted about it everywhere including in here, I lost it. I lost my wedding ring and I never found it. It still hurts me to my core that its gone. I have HIS wedding ring but its huge on me so I only wear it on special occassion days when I need to feel close to him. But having naked fingers is NOT something I have gotten used to, and its a surreal and weird feeling to be forced not to wear it anymore before being ready. Soon as I can afford it, I will have Don's ring sized down to fit my finger and then probably wear it on my right hand. Sigh ...

  6. Rebecca your rings are beautiful together. When my husband died it was also from a suicide. Immediately upon being given his ring, I removed mine, placed his on my finger, and put my rings back on to hold it in place. It has never left my hand since. I have wrestled with whether or not to remove them from time to time, but can't do it. Maybe one day. Right now I still need to wrap my fist around them as you describe. I gaze at them like I was a newlywed, remember the day he bought me my engagement ring (on our 10th anniversary!) and smile most of the time. Other times when I fall apart, looking at them gives me strength to know he's with me. I too relish the ability to tell his and our story when people ask whose ring I'm wearing. I'm so glad you posted about this.

  7. I bought sizers at Walmart and tried his ring on several different fingers before having it sized for the middle finger of my left hand. I still wear mine next to it on my ring finger but like your idea. I think I'll have it sized to wear with his. I catch people looking at my left hand and try not to imagine or care about what they're thinking. These first holidays are hard and that will, maybe, give me a project/distraction.

  8. My husband died suddenly of a heart attack at 3:11 a.m. (6/21/11) beside me. The loss of the love of my life will never leave me. Four months after Rich died, I was driving somewhere and I looked down at my left hand on the steering wheel and my wedding band triggered a crying attack. The pain was more than I could bear. A few days later, I went to our jeweler and took Rich's wedding band, my wedding band, and my engagement ring and asked our jeweler to help me design a ring using all three rings. In December 2011, I proudly wore "our" ring; one that Rich would love. The alternative was to leave all three rings in a safe until I joined Rich and I didn't want to do that. Every time someone comments about my gorgeous ring, I tell them that it was created lovingly from our three rings.

  9. I am so sorry that you lost your husband so soon after your marriage. My 50 year old husband died unexpectedly this past summer. Our 24th wedding anniversary was this fall. I haven’t had to go through the trauma of taking the rings off since we both worked with our hands and hadn’t worn our rings in years. For our anniversary, I thought I would put the rings on an old gold chain that he had given me before we were married. The rings were pretty dirty, banged up, and his was cracked. I took the rings and chain to a jeweler, told him that my husband died and I was hoping to wear the rings as a necklace for our anniversary. He told me to come back in 20 minutes. I will never forget the jeweler’s shy, hopeful smile as he pulled out the beautiful, shiny necklace that he had made out of this beat up old jewelry. I think that was the first time I smiled since my husband’s death. I have worn the ring necklace a few times on special days.