After the death of a partner, you are forced to make some tough choices. Considering what to do with your wedding rings, is unfortunately one of them.
Wedding rings are much more than just pieces of jewelry, they are a symbol of an everlasting union. A union that, even after death, should be honored.
However, knowing exactly what to do with wedding rings after death is challenging to say the least. People typically sense the need to do what feels naturally right, while also balancing how their mark of respect looks outwardly. All the while experiencing intense grief.
How you deal with the death of your spouse is your choice. You should never feel the pressure to remove your wedding ring, or, indeed, to keep it on. The grief experience is wholly unique to the individual, and how you choose to deal, or not deal with it, is down to you.
It’s good to talk to loved ones and search for opinions, other people’s experiences, and posts like this one. But determining the best course of action, and when you should act, should be down to you, and you alone.
Today, we’ll share not only our ideas on what to do with wedding rings after death. But also some advice on what to do if you would rather not take it off.
Reasons You May Prefer to Continue Wearing Your Wedding Ring After Your Spouse’s Death
The weight of a wedding ring, metaphorically and physically, can feel burdensome following the death of a spouse. And yet, that burden can also often feel deeply reassuring.
You Want to Feel Close
Both of you wore your wedding band every single day. They were, and still are, a symbol of your connection, and they hold a special kind of energy.
Before their passing, we’re confident you looked at your wedding ring whenever you thought of your partner. Those times when they came home late or didn’t pick up the phone when you called.
You’d always glance at your ring, and maybe twirl it around your finger. It brought comfort, and somehow their presence was instantly nearer than it actually, physically was.
Now that they are gone, why should this comfort be taken away from you? Particularly at a time when you need it most.
There’s no chance you’ll forget about your beloved spouse. But in the time following their death, constant thoughts of them will begin to dissipate. You’ll manage to go minutes, hours even, without thinking of them. And there is nothing wrong with this.
But if you want something that’ll just bring you back, and instantly remind you of a happy time with your partner, the preferable option for people is often the wedding band.
The Guilt of Removing Your Wedding Ring
Taking off a wedding ring following the death of a spouse can sometimes feel like a betrayal, or as if you’re over them emotionally. Even years after their passing.
The latter feeling is typically related to how you think it looks to other people, but this shouldn’t be the primary driving force behind your behavior when it comes to such a personal, intimate subject as losing a loved one.
Friends, family, and the wider community will all have their own differing opinions on your situation. None of which should affect your grieving process.
If you’re feeling like never is too soon to remove your wedding ring, and that your partner would be upset to know you’re not wearing it, try to really consider how they would feel.
If the situation were reversed, would you want your partner to experience even more sadness than they are already feeling? Or would you want them to relieve themselves of as much grief as possible, and remove this physical reminder of your death?
You Want to Avoid Appearing Single
In everyday life, the wedding band is a signifier to the outside world that you are taken. Removing your band can feel, not unjustly, like you’re open to creating new relationships.
Keeping the ring on after the passing of a spouse can not only provide you with constant reminders of your loved one. But also it may possibly avoid any awkward conversations.
If you’re not ready to be single or even think about another romantic partner, keeping your wedding ring on will certainly help you to live in a protective bubble for longer.
When is the Right Time to Take Off a Wedding Ring Following the Death Of a Partner?
You’ll probably be unsurprised to hear that there is no right or wrong answer to this question. The healing process is entirely different for everyone.
Therefore, you won’t find a correct timeframe for removing your wedding band after the death of your spouse. It is a purely personal decision, made at your own pace.
It could be months or years from now. A moment when you wake up, and just feel the time is right, however hard to imagine this may be.
The many layers of pain you’re experiencing is nearly constant right now. But it will pass. And when it does, it’s ok to move on, remove the ring, and not feel like you need that form of comfort anymore.
Which Finger Should a Widow Wear their Wedding Ring on?
If you’re ready to make a step in the grieving process, moving your wedding ring over to the other hand can feel like a significant symbolic gesture. It shows that your marital status is not single, but not married either.
It indicates you are a widow, another challenging term to get your head around.
This change in status means you’re open to new romantic relationships, and not held by a marriage contract, whilst maintaining the caveat that your deceased partner is very much not forgotten.
The actual position you choose for your right-handed wedding ring finger is not set. For us, the most obvious digit is the corresponding ‘marriage finger’ on your other hand. However, the choice is very much up to you.
What to do with Wedding Rings After Death
If you want to go one step further than moving your wedding ring to the right hand. Let’s explore some creative ideas that’ll help honor your late husband or wife.
Wear the Ring on a Chain
A wedding ring on a chain is one of the most popular options for widows, as it allows the wearer to feel connected to their beloved spouse. But in a more discreet, and perhaps more meaningful way.
Hanging freely on a chain, the ring will be close to your heart and will be there when you need it. It keeps the memory alive, without feeling like a constant reminder in daily life.
This involves a little planning during a challenging time. But if you’re able to obtain the fingerprint of your partner before the burial process, or cremation, it can be used to create a unique piece of memorial jewelry. Be that a new ring, necklace, or pendant.
This fingerprint jewelry can either be made from fresh materials, or you can choose to melt down your wedding ring, using that as the base material for whichever piece of jewelry you want to be created.
Pass it Down
Knowing that the life of your wedding ring does not stop with you and that it will go to a treasured home, can be the most therapeutic option for some.
Passing this significant piece of jewelry down as an heirloom does not mean your child or grandchild has to wear your ring. But it does mean it will be given the love it deserves. Even if it lives in their jewelry box.
Bury Your Wedding Ring with Your Deceased Spouse
For time immemorial, loved ones have placed physical objects in the coffins, or burial sites, of deceased spouses to help in the afterlife. If you feel that burying your wedding ring with your late partner will help you, and them, you should do it.
There can be no more symbolic gesture of letting go than burying a wedding ring. And it may be the ideal option if you’re struggling with what to do with both wedding rings.
It may give you the reassuring feeling that your late partner is still looking after things for you, even after they’re gone.
This is, however, a very permanent decision, which many may not feel comfortable doing, and you must be aware that there’s no going back once you’ve handed over those rings.
So consider this step carefully, and be certain if you decide to take this decision.
Set Rings into the Headstone
If you are able, emotionally and financially, in the wake of your partner’s death to think about funeral planning, then this may feel right for you. A special tombstone, with your wedding rings set into it, is a really meaningful idea.
Giving both your rings an honorary place setting at the burial site means you can visit them at any time, and touch them even, but not feel physically weighed down by them.
A Ceremonial Goodbye
Your marriage ring was given to you on your wedding day, the biggest life ceremony of them all. Therefore, it can feel fitting to end the life of this piece of jewelry by giving it a proper send-off, in whichever way you see fit.
This ceremony could be performed alone, maybe at a vacation spot that you both loved. Somewhere private where you can be at one with your thoughts, before you cast that band into the ocean, or bury it in the ground.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer to be surrounded by friends, or family, make the ceremony a celebration. Take some time to perform whatever ritual feels right to you, and then raise a glass to your lost loved one.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to be able to afford a wedding ring, meaning options are unfortunately very limited for some people.
Donating your wedding ring to be gifted, or sold at a reduced price, to couples in need can feel like a really worthy way to deal with your grief. It will help those in need, while also giving you a sense of release.
If you would rather not imagine your wedding ring on someone else’s finger, it can still be donated.
But instead of being given to a couple, it can be melted down and sold as raw material, the proceeds of which would then go to a much-needed cause, such as providing clean drinking water in Africa.