My left ring finger looks so bare as I think about what to write on my blog today. I have put on a few pounds since my wedding day and my ring was literally stuck on my finger. It was a beautiful ring that my grandmother had worn her whole life and she left to me in her handwritten scrawl on the side of her neatly typed Last Will and Testament.
When Mike and I decided to get married, after living together in California for a year, I went home to New York, took the ring out of the safety deposit box and declared ourselves engaged. We had of course discussed this before I went home to visit. During the week in New York we quickly booked a venue, ordered a wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses, selected flowers and invitations, and introduced our parents at a dinner. We were excited to get married in a church ceremony with our families and friends.
Living in San Diego, I had brought my grandmother’s delicate and large diamond ring to a local jeweler. It was uncanny how he admired the ring and said it was designed in New York City around 1920 based on the design of the diamond called the “Old Mine Cut”. This popular cut is different from today’s diamonds in that instead of being laser cut, it was hand produced. Every single diamond is unique.
After appraising the ring, we had the jeweler design a ring to match as a wedding band. This was in the late 1980’s when everyone was changing old rings into new designs. I admired those flashy gold rings with the diamonds mounted high above the surface; easy to use as a weapon in a dark, mall parking garage. Resisting the urge and with a lack of additional funds, I kept the ring as is. I am so glad that I did not change the setting because it is so beautiful the way it is.
But, as with many of the things from my marriage, I have acknowledged that some things are no longer true. Like on Facebook it says I am married. I feel like I am married, but I guess I should really change that to widowed. That just seems too real. I’m not ready to let the world know I am a widow.
Most of Mike’s clothes are now gone from his closet, although I still have a few items that I think my sons may want or I just keep them around because they remind me of him and maybe a special time. I have expanded my summer wardrobe into his closet. Recently I was going through some piles of papers and came across his expired license and photo I.D. card from a hotel we worked in together in California. I didn’t get rid of them, yet. Not sure why – I just didn’t want to. To read about more about my attempts at clearing out the house click here: Finding Joy in the act of getting rid of clutter.
Some widows are ready when their husband passes, and clean out the houses right away. That is not the way I dealt with it. Since his death was unexpected, I was in the denial zone for a while, I left everything as is. In fact, I often thought and dreamed that this was all a big mistake and he would be back. He died in August and left his flip-flops outside the side door. I left them outside all winter.
Slowly, I have made progress in moving on or moving forward and parting with some things that I really don’t need. His toiletries and medicines took a while, but I realized that I didn’t want or need them. One morning, when I was tired of the clutter, I cleared out the bathroom shelves. He didn’t collect much stuff, but I did get rid of some of his books and papers. I still have his framed diplomas. I guess as long as I am living in this house, I don’t have to make decisions about all that stuff yet.
Back to the ring. It is so pretty. I had to literally cut it off my finger. It was broken in 2 parts. The original ring was very thin, and the wedding band torn. The two soldered rings were so tight I could no longer remove the set. My finger was beginning to turn blue. Once again, I considered changing the setting and making it a “cocktail” ring. But, since it is about 100 years old and a family heirloom, I will have it resized and wear my grandmother’s diamond ring on my right hand. It will always remind me that I was married to Mike.
But the wedding band that we had made is special to me. It represents our marriage. Maybe I will use my wedding band and his wedding band and design a piece of jewelry to keep him close to my heart as well. Turning the pieces into a heart or a cross would be lovely.
I asked a jeweler if he could turn the rings into a new piece. He offered to melt them down and purchase the gold, but that just didn’t seem right. I have seem some women design a necklace using the two rings. The design is generally still circular.
Do widows wear wedding rings? Yes they do. Some will never take them off. Some will move them to the right hand. Some will even wear their husband’s band on a thumb or middle finger or on a chain. It is definitely a personal decision and not one any one else should make for you. When or if you are ready, you will take it off. Maybe you’ll sometimes put it back on again.
I have seen many examples of beautiful new pieces of jewelry that widows have made. A necklace with both rings on a chain. Or both rings melted down into a heart shape with a diamond. Maybe turn them into a widow ring, which doesn’t sound that great, but basically it is your design and may include parts of both your rings.
It took me almost 3 years to move my ring to the other hand. I may never have moved it off my left hand, but the fact that it was too small and broken helped me make the decision.
I also made the decision to move my ring to the other side because I am ready to meet someone else and be part of a committed relationship. I started dating after three years, and I did not remove my ring. Some men might be offended or put off by this. I left it on because it is pretty and it represents who I am. Telling a date that I had been married and that my husband died was sure to come up in conversation. It’s different from wearing a wedding ring and currently still being married.
I loved being married. Our relationship of course had it’s ups and downs but overall we had trust and love and continued to enjoy each other. The shock of him being gone is going away and I am learning to live in the life I have right now. If the life I have brings me a new love, then I will honor that.
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