July 17th, 2008 by

One of the questions which comes to mind when you lose your spouse is whether or not you wish to remove your rings. You may also question when is the appropriate time. And you may also hear advice from family and friends about how to handle these deeply personal questions.

The night my husband died I was told by the mortuary to remove his wedding ring. Wow. OK. I was in shock. I did it. For security purposes, they said. Not sure what that meant, but I had no energy for questioning. I did what I was told.

I placed the ring on my finger, but I was afraid I would lose it. I had to keep it close to me. It was a symbol of our love. It now became a tangible way to stay close to him while at the same time feeling so very lonely.

I decided to put his ring on a chain around my neck, very close to my heart. it helped me feel close and it brought comfort.

A couple months later my ring finger began to itch beneath my own rings. There was no physical reason for this irritation. Intuitively I sensed it was time to remove them. But taking them off brought up so many feelings. There seemed to be a new finality to our relationship. There were feelings of guilt. There were feelings of disloyalty.

After several days I was actually able to remove the rings from my finger. It seemed appropriate to add them to his ring on the chain around my neck.

Surprisingly, within a couple weeks I felt like it was time to remove the necklace of rings. I placed the rings in a special heart-shaped box where they remain to this day. I open it on occasion and smile in gratitude for the shared life represented by these rings.

Removing the rings is a milestone that we each must handle in our own way. Trust your feelings. You will know what is right for you.


  1. Pamela Moore Says:

    How good it was to read the blog on wedding bands. I lost my husband 11/07 and as you know it’s been tough.
    Reading in bed one night the chapter in a book was about when to remove your rings. Also that you are now a single person. Well I never thought about it like that. Denial ? I know he’s gone. But that hurt beyond belief. I still wear my rings and am not ready to remove them yet. Perhaps that really makes it final.
    Last week I started to clean out closets and drawers. Got rid of a lot of my things. His are in plastic bags just sitting there. Also spent a lot of time shredding papers with his personal information.
    One step at a time is all I can do.

  2. Maria Says:

    I must admit, I was intrigued by the title of this piece — wondered if anyone else had thought about what to do with his ring. It never occurred to me to let the ring go with him, since it was the one tangible piece of him left to me. We’d even had the same thing inscribed inside our wedding bands.
    The problem was that his ring is far too big for me to wear on my hand; I wear it on a chain around my neck, and have since the day he died. I even kept it on through an EKG.
    The other change I made was to leave my engagement and anniversary bands on my left hand (gifts from him, both) and to move my wedding band to my right hand — a widow’s band. Whether I see it as a triangle or circle, I still feel protected by him, surrounded by him.
    I don’t know whether I’ll ever take my rings off — our kids’ll probably have to pry them off my stiff cadaver whenever my time comes to join him. And they can take his ring from me then, too.
    For now, for today, I choose to wear the rings.
    He may be gone, but the contract’s still in force; the rings are mine now, but I still belong to him wherever he is.

  3. Roberta Says:

    The day before my husband died the thought of if I should remove his ring crossed my mind. Then later that day I had my answer when I stepped on it. He had lost so much weight it had fallen off.

    A local jeweler made it into a necklace. I love wearing it.

    I took my ring off six months after his death, not because I wanted to but because I had gained so much weight if I did not take it off it would need to be cut off. I had it resized for my right hand. I am back to my normal weight, and when alone sometimes I wistfully slip it on to my left hand.

  4. Marla Says:

    My husband passed away suddenly from cardiac arrest last Dec. (2007). I did not even think about his ring until the funeral director asked if I wanted his ring ~~ just before we closed his casket for the final time. Neither one of us could get the ring over his knuckle, so he still has it on. I did want it to wear on a necklace, but it wasn’t meant to be, evidently.
    As far as my wedding rings, I still wear them on my left hand where I have worn a wedding band and engagement ring since we married 39 yrs ago. My hand is just too bare w/o them.
    I have been thinking about having the engagement diamond and the diamonds in my band reset or remade into another ring.
    Some other widows I know have had a widow ring made to wear on their left hand. Usually it has black diamonds, and some seem to use some of their diamonds from wedding rings with it. I had never heard of a widow’s ring. So, not so sure about them.
    Anyway, right now, mine are still where they have been for years.

  5. Leslie Says:

    My husband passed away in November 2007, from a massive heart attack. He had the attack on Nov. 2, and passed away on Nov. 5, 2007 so I had him for 3 days in the hospital. I have and will continue to thank God that he came to enough one night and was fully conscious for him to hear me tell him I loved him and for him to nod and try to speak but he couldn’t as he had a vent in his mouth, but at least I got to tell him and watch him try to tell me he loved me, which is much more than alot of widows are allowed due to sudden deaths. But his right hand and wrist had been amputated, due to vascular disease and he wasn’t allowed to wear anything on his left hand or wrist so he kept his ring on a chain around his neck. Of course the day he went into the hospital I took his ring off the chain and placed it over my own matching wedding band and then put my engagement ring on so it kept his bigger band in place on my hand. I haven’t taken them off since even though it is approaching a year since he’s been gone. Neither one of us wanted this to happen, and I don’t “feel ” single even though in reality I know I am. My mum continues to wear her rings even though its been 8 years since my dad passed away. I have no thoughts of ever taking my rings off…just doesn’t seem the right thing to do for me, so they will stay where they are.

  6. Diane Says:

    My husband had never taken his ring off while he was alive and I wasn’t going to take it away from him. The 1st time I checked off the box [ ] widow – I realized that our marriage was no more and felt that the rings on my finger were not telling my life as it was now. I didn’t want to take them off – because I was not single either (at least in my heart). I felt that I needed to “make it right”, and began a search for a widow’s ring. I wanted a 3rd ring, a mourning ring, black, and symbolic of our love. The search was frustrating and expensive.
    I even learned to make wire sculpted rings. I found a source to “special order” my black widow rings. I found that a hematite ring is very comforting. The thin black bands fit comfortable next to the wedding rings, a solitaire can be worn when you take off your rings and your finger does not feel bare. The collection includes a black 6mm band with the serenity prayer inside the band. Now I wear an Eternity of Tears… a wide band with pear shaped stones side by side.
    I think that removing the rings should be a matter of heart not time. And each one of us should do what feels right – I have found my solace and want to offer the comfort that I found to other grieving women.

  7. Pat Says:

    Thank you. I did not know what other widows have done and found this informative. There apparently appears no set tradition. What was good for my husband and me is that he had lost several wedding bands, fortunately, found the original! The last one we had replaced we both liked and had 3 crosses in the center. That ring I had them place on his left hand and I am wearing my ring on my right hand, I call it not my widow’s ring, but my “eternity” ring.

  8. garnet Says:

    i miss him, he died from cancer, and i took the ring off 2 months after, to help me to move on. it is one year now and i want to put them back on. i am npot interested in another and want to be still his, as i told him nobody else matters. as this holds true even today. so i asked my kids what they thought and they think i shouldn’t. but the indent is leabving my finger and so will his promise. i really miss his love and support.

  9. Dorothy Says:

    I was hoping this would give me some answers. We were married 35 years when my husband passed in April of 07. Our rings were remade around our 28th aniversary. The rings symbolize so much and it is still hard for me to move my ring. Having recently dated someone I am interested in, I was ready to move the ring to my right hand but of course, it does not fit. I am still at odds with what to do.

  10. Kay Says:

    My husband passed away in 12/07 after three years from a car accident. I loved my wedding ring with the brushed gold and diamond. He never wore his ring since his job required a lot of outside work with tools. After a year I decided it was time to take our rings into a jeweler. I decided to have the rings made into a necklace with the diamond in the middle and two sapphires on each side. I love sapphires and it seemed fitting to do this. The necklace turned out beautiful in its simplicity. I will pass the necklace on to his side of the family once I am gone since we have no children. When I visit his gravesite I wear the necklace. It has helped me move on. It has taken me awhile to adjust to being single. I felt widowed and nothing beyond that. I am also dating now and it seemed the appropriate thing to do for me. I “never” thought I would date again at this age. Life is full of surprises. You have to do what you feel is right for you.

  11. Nicole Says:

    My husband died in a tragic car accident. Let me first say that I am 25 yrs. old. When he died, I was 9 weeks pregnant. It will be 9 mos. this month since he’s been gone. As a young widow, I know that God has a plan for me whatever that may be. There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think of him or miss him terribly. We have a beautiful baby girl that looks like him. Before he was buried, I removed his wedding ring and wear it around my neck on a chain. I love my wedding set but am feeling like it’s time for me to either take them off or move them to my right hand. I love what Diane said about the “widow ring” and I feel exactly the way she does about her wedding ring not telling her how her life is now but not wanting to feel single. I’m going to keep thinking about this. Thanks to all of you for your comments. God Bless. There is a purpose under everything.

  12. Helen Says:

    MY husband died of a heart attack the moring of Feb 19 2010 i didnt even get to tell him goodby or that i loved him i found him on the floor when i got up to go to work we hadnt been married for 9 months yet today would have been his 60th birthday what should a widow ring be?

  13. Trisha Says:

    My husband died Feb. 2010. He was military. I now have his ring and wear it with my rings. As a young widow…many feel I should be seeking out another….but I am not comfortable doing this. The contract is still in forca and he still has my back.

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