One of the hardest things to experience is the loss of your spouse. After all, this is the person that you chose to spend your life with. No matter how much time you had together, it will probably feel like it ended too soon.
There are many levels of grief that people experience during the loss of a loved one. One of the hardest things to decide is what to do with special items.
A wedding ring is a symbol of your love and dedication to another person. Choosing what to do with it after your spouse passes away can take a lot of thought. And it is not an easy decision to make. It's not something that many people can decide quickly. Take your time and weigh your options before deciding. If you're struggling with what to do, here are a few suggestions that may feel right for you.
Tip: If finding a place for valued items is just one challenge you're facing after the loss of a spouse, our post-loss checklist can help.
1. Wear It
Many widows or widowers choose to continue to wear their wedding ring for some time. Some wear it for the rest of their life. They might do it because it makes them feel safe. Or because they still feel married. Or maybe they just aren't ready to stop wearing this symbol of their love for their spouse.
There are countless reasons why you might wear it. But you don't need a reason to do what feels the best for you.
Choosing to wear your ring after your spouse dies is a complicated decision. It’s a choice that you alone should make. Don’t let anyone pressure you about "getting back out there." Or bully you into removing your ring before you’re ready. Everyone grieves differently.
Tip: There is no time frame for when you should stop wearing your wedding ring. And there is no one single reason that people choose to stop wearing them. Just remember that by continuing to wear your ring you’re signaling to others that you are not available.
2. Add a Memorial Diamond
You may want to keep wearing your wedding ring as-is, but might feel it needs a bit of a refresh after your spouse dies. But instead of taking your ring to a local jeweler for a total redesign, why not try something more unique?
Adding a memorial diamond made our of your spouse's ashes or lock of hair alters the appearance of the ring, but adds an extra-special element. You can send in your spouse's ashes or hair to a memorial diamond company (we like Eterneva), and once you receive your diamond, take if to a jeweler to add the extra gem.
Tip: Most memorial diamond companies offer several colors, cuts, and styles. Think about if you plan to wear the ring every day, what hand you'll wear it on, and so forth before you make your decision.
For example, going with a colorful diamond brings the ring's style into the everyday cocktail ring category, while going with a white diamond will keep the ring closer to its original look.
3. Move it to Your Right Hand
It is a common practice for those who have been widowed to move their wedding ring to their right hand. You might see moving your ring as a "baby step" toward not wearing it. For some people, this is a small step toward "letting go" of the past (even though you don’t have to do that).
Moving your ring allows you to keep holding on to the person you love, but indicates your current unmarried status. Some people will move their ring to the right hand temporarily, while others will choose to keep it there indefinitely.
For people who remarry, it is typical to completely remove a right-handed wedding ring. Not doing so could prove to be a source of conflict with a new spouse. It is uncommon for people to continue to wear their old wedding rings once they are remarried. But that is a very personal choice and everyone will come to a different decision.
Tip: Moving your wedding ring to your right hand is a universal sign that you are a widow or widower. But it indicates that you may be interested in dating.
Be aware of this as you are deciding what to do with your ring. You may be approached by people who are interested in dating you. That can be difficult to navigate, especially if you are still grieving.
4. Wear it on a Necklace
You'll often see widows wear their wedding ring on a chain around their neck. This practice is more common among women than men. Not only does this keep the ring close to your heart, but people can see it and be informed about your marital status.
If you want people to know your status but don’t want to explain it, this is a good option. And wearing your ring around your neck keeps the physical symbol of your love close. It's a simple yet beautiful way to showcase your love and remembrance for your spouse.
Tip: It is common for people to wear two rings on their chain. They will wear their wedding band, and the wedding band of their deceased spouse. However, some people choose to wear just their wedding ring. That’s your choice to make.
5. Have it Redesigned
Sometimes, people choose to have their wedding ring redesigned into a different piece of jewelry. Redesigning it means you can more easily wear it without having to explain its meaning to people.
You could have it redesigned as a pin or brooch. Or as something else entirely. There are many ways that you can redesign jewelry. A good jeweler will be able to help you create a design that fits you.
Tip: Talk to a jeweler about the ways that you can redesign your piece of jewelry to fit your lifestyle and suit your style preferences.
If you don’t wear a lot of jewelry, consider having it redesigned into multiple pieces for your children. There are even options for cremation jewelry should you choose to do that. You can also opt for a customized urn from a store like Foreverence and display the ring with it. Whatever you decide, you are sure to be able to create something that suits you.
6. Put it Away for Safekeeping
In some cases, you might be ready to stop wearing your ring but not ready to let it go. That's okay. Instead, you may want to put it away for safekeeping.
You’ll want to put it in a safe place so that it is not damaged or lost. This option can also help you decide what you want to do with the ring. It may take some time before you know what to do with it.
But in the meantime, you'll have peace of mind knowing that it is safe. For some people, this is the first step in letting go of this physical reminder. Other people put the ring away but make no plans to get rid of it. Either way, storing your ring may be the best option for you.
Tip: Consider putting the ring in a fireproof box or a safe deposit box for safekeeping. You don’t want the ring to get damaged or misplaced.
7. Donate It
If you have a giving heart, then you might consider donating your ring to a good cause. There are a variety of nonprofits that accept used jewelry to resell. The profit from this jewelry will be used to fund their work. This could be a great way to honor your deceased spouse while also giving back.
You'll need to consider how you’ll feel not knowing where the ring ends up. That can be a difficult thing to wrestle with. But for some people, they take comfort in the knowledge that the ring is giving someone else joy.
Tip: Research groups or causes to find a mission that speaks to you. Donating your ring to a non-profit that supports a cause that matters to you can help make the decision easier. Or see if you can donate it to an organization whose mission aligns with something your partner cared about. That can be a beautiful way to honor them.
8. Make it an Heirloom
Whether you choose to redesign it or leave it the same, you could make your wedding ring a family heirloom. You may want to give a ring to one of your children. Or add it to your will for another member of your family to inherit. This way, you'll know the ring still has a special place in your family.
Especially if you have children, this course might be for you. They can appreciate that you are passing on a special piece of your life.
Tip: If you do decide to make your ring an inherited heirloom, don't forget to include it as part of your will. You want to make sure it is given to the person you choose.
9. Ceremonial Goodbye
When you do decide to let your ring go, you may want to celebrate that decision. After all, it was given to you during a ceremony, so saying goodbye to it in a special way closes that loop.
There are countless ways that you can choose to do this. What matters most is that the process means something to you. Some people choose to have an elaborate ceremony while other people do this more privately and quietly.
Tip: There are plenty of ways you could do this. You could consider tossing it into a river or even burying it in the ground. You may want to have other people attend or simply do it on your own.
You could do it on a date that meant something to you and your partner. Your wedding anniversary or the day you first met your spouse would be good options.
What better way to say "happy anniversary in heaven" than to say one final farewell to the symbol of your love?
Make the Decision That is Right For You
End-of-life planning includes so many tedious details. What to do with your wedding rings doesn’t have to be one of them. The most important thing to keep in mind is that there is no one-size-fits-all answer to what you should do. Just consider your options and make the decision that feels right for you.
Take your time and consider all of the options before choosing what feels best. Remember, there is no rush or timeline for these things. You'll know when you are ready.