Widow Life Questions: When Should I Stop Wearing My Wedding Ring?

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The question of if and when to take off a wedding ring as a widow isn't straightforward. You probably know that. Like so many things in grief, there is no single answer of when, why, and how. If you take your ring off, when you take your ring off, and what you do with your ring are all deeply personal decisions. So though we can't tell you the single "answer" to this question, we can walk you through some common considerations and share with you some of the suggestions we've received from hundreds of widows over the years. Let's break it down question by question, starting with the one we get the most.

When is the right time for a widow to stop wearing their wedding ring?

There is no right time, period. We know widows who took their rings off immediately after the death. We know widows who still wear their rings after thirty years, even after they remarried. As with many things in grief, we encourage you to drop any "shoulds" you might be feeling (self-imposed or from others). Instead focus on what feels right for you. There is no right or wrong answer.

How will I know it is the right time for me?

Now, this is tricky - we said focus on what feels right for you. And now I am going to follow that up by saying that often no time feels exactly right. Wearing your ring is an important symbolic connection to your partner - it rarely feels exactly 'right' or easy to stop wearing it. So that's the bad news. The good news is, if you take it off and then later decide it doesn't feel right and you want to start wearing it again, you can! There is no rule that says it's a permanent decision.

As for assessing whether it feels right to you, it's important to examine if you're worrying about things like other people's perceptions of your decision. Are you keeping it on because you think other people might feel it is too soon to take it off? Are you taking it off even though you'd like to wear it longer because it feels like the 'socially acceptable' window of time to wear it has passed. Remember, the only thing that matters is how it feels to you. I know it can be hard not to worry about what other's will think, but those who care about you will want you to make the best decision for yourself - even if they don't get it.

How should I take it off?

So, the logistics of removing a ring are pretty straightforward. What we mean by "how" is should you just quietly, casually do it, or should you do it in some sort of meaningful or symbolic way. As you might imagine, there is no right answer for this either. We've heard more variations of 'how' than we could ever list here or count -- "I spontaneously decided to put my rings in his casket with him to be buried", "I just took them off one day to work in the garden and decided not to put them back on", "I threw them across the room in anger and never put them back on", "I planned a ceremony on a special day and took them off to keep in a special keepsake box", and on and on.

If I leave it on, what should I do with it?

Leave it on exactly in the exact way that it has always been on.

This one is pretty straightforward. Keep your same ring (or rings) on your same hand, as it has always been.

Move it to your right hand.

This is pretty common. Some widows move the ring to their right hand indefinitely. Others move it to their right hand as a transition and then ultimately take it off entirely.

Wear it as a necklace.

This is another popular option. You can put it on a chain, or there are necklaces designed spefically for wearing a ring as a necklace. Click on any of the rings below to be taken to the etsy shop that sells them. A google search for 'ring holder necklace' will bring you plento of other options

Have it turned in to another piece of jewelry.

Another popular option is to have your ring made into something else - we've heard of everything from earrings, bracelets, necklaces, and even having your ring turned into a new, different ring. You can do this with just your ring, or if you have your partner's ring some people choose to take the rings together and have them turned into something else. You can check etsy and pinterest for ideas, or we've linked to the gallery of a jewelry designed from rights (center image below) that might help in imagining possibilities.

If I take it off, what should I do with it?

Nothing special.

There is no pressure to do something in particular with a ring if you decide to stop wearing it. There is nothing wrong with it living in the jewelry box alongside all your other jewelry, or sitting in the ring dish by your sink if that is what feels right to you.

Bury it with your spouse.

Some people find this a meaningful symbolic gesture - keeping the rings together. Unfortunately, if you choose to do this you have to have the presence of mind to think of it early on! If you didn't consider this option before the burial but still like the idea of your ring being with your loved one, you can consider having it set into their headstone. Though I have read of several people doing this, I can't find any details online so you would probably need to speak with the company creating the headstone to expore your options.

Keep it in a keepsake box.

Some people take their ring and their partner's ring and store them in a nice keepsake box. This could be a box you have especially made, to be meaningful to you. Alternatively, it could just be a box that you like. As always, no rules! Etsy has many makers who engrave ring boxes of all shapes, sizes, and designs (often designed to hold rings for a wedding ceremony) that work well for something like this.

Pass it on

Some people decide to pass their ring (or rings) along to children, neices, nephews, or other friends or family. If you no longer wish to wear your ring and it doesn't feel important to you that you keep it, this can be a nice gesture for others in the family who are deeply connected with you and your partner.

Sell it

Rings aren't sentimental to everyone and that is absolutely okay! You may decide to sell your ring and there is nothing wrong with that. You know that your connection to your partner lives on in you, not your ring.

Have other ideas? Please share them in the comments down below!

We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.

We invite you to share your experiences, questions, and resource suggestions with the WYG community in the discussion section below.

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22 Comments on "Widow Life Questions: When Should I Stop Wearing My Wedding Ring?"

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  1. Emma  March 8, 2024 at 5:15 pm Reply

    My husband of 48 years passed away suddenly 27 months ago. I will not stop wearing our rings. On my left hand I have his ring on my ring finger and then my band. My ring keeps his from slipping off.

  2. Catherine  December 31, 2023 at 4:43 pm Reply

    I lost my dear, sweet husband of 20 years last month and I will always wear both of our rings. I wear his on my middle finger of my right hand because that’s where it fits. I never want to re-marry because no one could ever fill my wonderful husband’s shoes. I miss him so much and wearing his ring helps me feel closer to him.

  3. Sara  June 27, 2023 at 2:21 pm Reply

    I lost my husband to cancer last year in March. While on Google today I read that I am no longer married because death breaks the marital contract. It was hard to hear (read). I still wear my rings, but I have his saved in a box. He was wearing it on a chain because it was slipping from his finger. I haven’t thought about not wearing my rings, or moving them to my right hand for that matter. I don’t know if I ever will, or not. But it was interesting for me to read what other widows were doing. I guess only time will tell. I cried today after reading that I was no longer considered married. It was just another reality check. Thanks for listening 🙂

  4. Carol  May 8, 2023 at 7:37 am Reply

    Before. I. Went. To. Bed one. Night. I. Felt. The. Lord. Speak. To. Me. About. Letting. Go. Of. My. Deceased. Husband. And I. Needed. To. Take. My rings. Off. And. Place. Them. With. His. Band in. Order. To. Move. Forward to. The. New. Beginning. God. Has. For. Me,it. Was. Not. An easy. Thing. And. The. Right. Thing. For. Me after three. Years.

    • Carrie  December 2, 2023 at 4:39 pm Reply

      I just did the same thing, my husband passed away from cancer 3.5 years ago and I said I would never take it off but, it was starting to feel “heavy”, even though I am still in love with him and miss him terribly. It was like a reminder that he is gone and I felt stuck…my journey is getting less sad and more happy and I know that is what he would want be to be. I am 62, and I have no intention of dating or marrying again. I now wear a ring that has both of our birthstones and our names engraved on the band…and I feel at peace.

  5. Anna Bradley  January 24, 2023 at 7:05 pm Reply

    My husband died 3 years ago after 45 yrs and i will never take my wedding rings off or answer to spinster or widow.im married to my husband for eternity until we meet again in heaven.i could never marry again for many reason
    There is no way I could ever go through the agony for another man that i went through when my precious husband died.

  6. Anna  December 9, 2022 at 11:26 pm Reply

    I am so overwhelmed and thankful for this site and shared comments. It will be three years the day after Christmas I loss my husband, i have not wore my rings or his since his passing, but I’m needing to wear them but I really do believe I was more concerned about what others might thank,but this is about my feelings right and what I need to make me feel good. I have no desire to remarry sooo on goes the rings and forget about what others may or may not think. Thanks for the encouragement.

  7. Teresa  September 13, 2022 at 12:26 am Reply

    My husband died a year ago. I have no plans of taking my rings off or moving them to the other hand. I feel everyone has that choice. I have never been one to do things just because that is the way other people do it. I do have a big regret though. I buried my husband with his band on. At the time I did not want to remove it because he never took it off. Left that and his class ring on. Both because he wore them all the time. Now I wish I had his band so I could make it into something like a necklace that I could wear. We don’t always think exactly right in such stressful situations.

    • Michael  February 28, 2023 at 1:19 am Reply

      I feel for you, Teresa.

      I lost my wife in May 2022 after being together for over 45 years, 41 of them married.

      I was fortunate, unlike you sadly, to keep her ring when she was cremated, which I keep in her jewellery box. My own ring I still wear, at least for now, but what I will eventually do with both rings..? Only time will answer that.

      Take care and try to think positive.

  8. Richard  August 21, 2022 at 8:21 am Reply

    Thank you for the article. My wife dies last year age 51. We had been married for 25 wonderful years. Sitting here wearing my wedding ring and holding hers (which is broken as they had to cut it off during a medical emergency). No idea what to do. But so good to hear the feelings of others.

    • Michael E  February 25, 2023 at 7:08 pm Reply

      I just lost my wife this month. She was only 55. I just received her ring from the funeral home yesterday. I have it on my little finger; next to my band on my left ring finger. It’s definitely bringing me comfort. She never took it off for 22 years.

  9. Catherine  June 2, 2022 at 5:14 am Reply

    My husband Stephen died three years, eight months and twenty days ago – yes, I’m still counting… ☹️

    I can’t imagine ever being able to take off my wedding ring and engagement ring – I still feel very much ‘married’ and it brings me comfort to continue to wear them. After 28 years of marriage it would feel very strange to remove my rings. After Stephen’s death I took off his wedding ring at the funeral office the last time I saw him before the funeral. At first I put his ring on a necklace – with a silver locket I had bought to put a lock of his hair in – and I wore both of them together all the time, only removing them when I had a shower or bath – they jangled together and were a source of feeling closer to Stephen. Then I noticed after a while that his wedding ring was scratching the locket so I now wear his wedding ring on my middle finger on my right hand and keep all three rings on all the time.

    I think whatever you do regarding wedding rings, whether your own or your partner’s, you do what is right for you.

    Some practical reasons I continue to wear my wedding ring are to definitely to confirm I am ‘not available’ and to avoid unwanted attention (not that I think I would receive much!). Also, I feel safer having tradespeople in the house and I hope they will be less likely to rip me off if they think I am married… sad but true.

  10. Patricia Young  March 26, 2022 at 9:54 pm Reply

    Never!!!! Could take my wedding ring off. I tried wearing both, but it was uncomfortable and didn’t feel right. So one day I went to the jeweler and asked if there was a way to make the two bands into one plus my diamond. Well, he did the most beautiful combination of the three rings into one, absolutely beautiful. I am so happy that I thought of doing this and was able to find an honest jeweler to do exactly as I asked. It looks wonderful and I am able to all three rings, as one.

  11. Terry Wilson  March 22, 2022 at 2:25 am Reply

    I can’t even imagine not wearing my rings. It’s been almost 4 months since I lost my husband. He was a farmer and outdoorsman and didn’t wear his ring. I got it from his jewelry box and now wear it on my middle finger, right beside my rings. I am also ordering a beautiful ring to wear with it that will have some of his cremains embedded in blue glass (to represent the month of our anniversary, September) on the band.

  12. Lexie  March 13, 2022 at 3:57 pm Reply

    It’s been 4 years and I still can’t do it. I feel like I’m so behind in grieving. I am still traumatized by emergency contact sheets and information forms with a “widow” box to check. The “single” box is not much better. I don’t think I will ever be in a place to take it off.

  13. J P  March 12, 2022 at 11:47 pm Reply

    I was given my husband’s wedding ring while he was dieing in the hospital. I put it on my finger so I wouldn’t loose it. It’s been a pretty consistent reminder he is with God where he belongs and if I stay focused on God I’m where I belong.

  14. Laurie  March 10, 2022 at 10:33 pm Reply

    When I was ready to take off my wedding and engagement rings, about 2 and a half years after he died, I bought a nice carved wooden box. Then I bought myself a new ring, actually I found three that I liked. I called them my Independant Widow rings. One had a garnet, one had a sapphire, and one had a pearl. Then on the anniversary of when we met, I put the took off my rings and put it in the box. I put the garnet ring on my right finger, and went to the Chicago Jazz Fest, where we had met. It felt much better not to have a bare hand, but to honor myself as a lone woman who could be “married” to herself.

  15. paul ziemnicki  March 10, 2022 at 8:52 pm Reply

    i’m a man i took my ring off a week or so after she died.Didn’t feel right.Its been 13 mounths .I put it back on after about 3 days.I wore it for 46 years it stays on till the day i leave this earth. Thank You Paul

  16. Sandra Lynch  March 10, 2022 at 8:18 pm Reply

    I love you guys! You seem to publish articles just as I am considering certain things. Such as when/if to remove my wedding rings. My husband, Wayne, died from cancer just over 2 years ago. We were married for 24 years, and very happily so. We have 3 kids who are now 20, 18 and 15yrs old.
    My considerations are:
    1. How will our kids feel about this? Will they see it as disrespectful, or as me disconnecting from their Dad, will they feel hurt or angry or resentful or worried I have “moved on” and left Wayne behind. They have experienced so much sadness, the last thing I want to do is cause them more.
    2. It is such a visible thing, but yet such a personal thing. Everyone will have an opinion. I don’t want people to comment, or ask me about it, or question me. I am close to Wayne’s three sisters, they will each have their opinion, and I don’t want to hear them!
    3. Having my rings on protects me from any male interest. I am totally not ready to spend time with another man. I took my rings off once to go to a party, and a guy asked me out. I felt angry and insulted-maybe a crazy reaction, but I kind of felt like I was being unfaithful to Wayne.
    I said no to the invitation.
    4. I just don’t think I am ready to remove this symbol of our love and commitment to each other.
    5. BUT, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life alone. I am now 55yrs old. My children will be up and off in the next few years.
    6. I think I’ll leave them on for now 🙂

    • Elizabeth  September 12, 2022 at 9:21 pm Reply

      I feel the same way. I am 58…we were married almost 36 years. My brain knows I will eventually want some sort of companionship, but for now, taking off the rings feels like I am leaving him. I wear his ring on my first finger on my left hand. I think it is a clear signal to others that I am still very much attached in my heart.

  17. Pam H  March 10, 2022 at 6:31 pm Reply

    I lost my husband of 30 years last May and wear both mine and his wedding rings on my left hand.

    • Karen  June 29, 2022 at 9:33 pm Reply

      I had 32 amazing years with my husband who was diagnosed the end of March with pancreatic cancer and died three weeks later because it quickly spread to his brain. When the funeral director handed me the death certificate info to sign, it showed my maiden name (he had asked me what it was when he was filling out the forms and I didn’t know why at the time) and I said no that is wrong, I need my married name on it. He said, legally you are no longer considered married. It was as if he just stuck a knife through my heart. It was a paralyzing moment for me. I realized then, that no matter how the world views me, my heart will always belong to my husband whether I wear symbols or not. I have two beautiful diamond rings from him and I chose to wear the one I wore as my wedding band on my right hand and the other one on my middle finger of my left hand. I am 63 and have no desire to see anyone else and I don’t see that changing. I have his thumbprint on a necklace in gold that wear next to my heart everyday. It is the most important symbol to me that I own. I can reach down and touch it and feel close to him anytime I want.


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