Proudly showing off my new engagement ring to my dad, I asked what he thought of the size of the diamond, his response stuck with me, “It’s not the size of the diamond that matters, but the commitment behind it.” On that same night as saying yes to marrying the man of my dreams, my mom told me to keep the ring on my finger and never take it off, not even to wash my hands, and so on my finger it stayed!
History tells us that wedding rings date back thousands of years to the Greeks and Romans. Worn on the fourth finger on the left hand because it is believed that a vein runs from that finger directly to the heart.
Most wedding ceremonies include not only the exchange of covenant vows but also wedding bands with a circle symbolizing infinity and love that will never end. Many couples include an inscription tucked inside their rings. My husband and I engraved Ecclesiastes 3:14, “Everything God does remains forever,” as a reminder of what God had done in bringing us together.
The painful circumstances of my husband’s death by betrayal and suicide, caused my wedding ring to come on and off with the rise and fall of emotions. It is not easy to shed the ring any more than it is to replace the identity of wife with widow, or for the “r” to quickly drop from “Mrs.” Death alone is painful and the addition or subtraction of these other things only adds salt to the wound.
Things to understand about the widow and her ring:
- Please know that removing the wedding ring is never easy. Just as it tells others that she is one with another, its absence shouts that she has been left alone.
- The wedding ring is often her favorite piece of jewelry. At first, she will feel naked when it is removed.
- There are many feelings attached to a gold band. The decision to keep the ring on or take it off is not made without emotion. It’s a big deal to move forward without it.
- Wedding rings provide a type of security. She may want others to think that she is married as a source of protection.
- It is common for the wedding ring to move to her right hand or even be displayed on a necklace. This shift allows the widow to continue to honor her husband but also acknowledges the reality that she is no longer married.
- Redesigning the ring is a way to continue enjoying the jewelry but without the same “I’m not married” message. There are many options for remaking the original ring into something beautiful.
- Showing compassion when you notice the ring is gone is thoughtful. Express empathy, “I noticed that you are no longer wearing your ring. How does that make you feel?”
- Accept her decision if she continues wearing the ring. If and when she decides to remove the ring is completely up to her. Wearing the wedding ring, even on her left hand, does not mean that she is stuck in grief but rather that she is comfortable and content with the place she is at.
Twenty years later, my ring still comes on and off my finger staying on more than off because of the new meaning God gave me to Ecclesiastes 3:14. Even though my marriage did not remain forever, the fruit (our eight children) of our union together will remain for generations upon generations. My diamond is nestled now in the center of emeralds, reminding me of our forever.
Along with this new symbolism came the call to remain a widow. The Apostle Paul tells women that it is good to remain single or widowed, “But I say to the unmarried and to widows that it is good for them if they remain even as I” (1 Corinthians 7:8). And so, I wear my ring as a reminder of the mission God has called me to.
Rings come in all shapes and sizes, as does grief and all the things, including wearing or not wearing the wedding band. Each step in the process will vary from widow to widow and it’s okay for her to take her time. There is no right or wrong in this decision.