With this ring

The last thing I expected from Paul when we took a mini-break to Venice back in spring 2004 was an engagement ring. I mean, I thought we were heading that way, but I didn’t expect the question right then. (But I said yes without skipping a beat!)

I remember the feeling of pride looking at that ring in the year in between our engagement and our wedding. And I remember the immense feelings of joy when my engagement ring was joined with a wedding band.

Paul and I would sit curled up on the couch together sometimes just looking at our rings. We would smile when we’d hold hands and our bands would clink together. Sometimes, we’d just clink them together for the sound—and we’d giggle and beam with joy. (I know: Extremely sappy! Funnily, we’d have mocked others for doing the same thing; which is why we only did it in the privacy of our own home.)

We were going to wear our rings forever—until death do us part and all that. And we were young(ish) and healthy and planned to live a very, very long time. So you can imagine the heartbreak when less than four years later Paul’s ring was removed from his finger in the funeral home. When it was handed to me, I slipped it onto my finger where it remained until yesterday.

In the beginning, I told myself that I would wear all three rings forever. I felt a connection of sorts with them there together. The diamond setting on my engagement ring kept Paul’s wedding band securely in place, but because it was so much bigger than my finger, the ring would clink and clank around when I moved my hand. I found a bit of morbid comfort in that sound.

But, also from the beginning, I knew that my wearing his ring made others uncomfortable. Some people even made comments about it being time to remove my rings—and after the “one year mark” a couple people were quite adamant that it was time to do so. But I wasn’t ready. (I wanted to ask them how long they’d worn their rings after losing their spouse, but I didn’t think that they’d see the ironic humour in the question, since their spouses were still living.)

Later, I decided that maybe it was time I set aside the rings—despite the fact that I wasn’t ready. I thought that maybe it would be symbolic or something. So I started looking at “widow rings” since I’d been hearing so much about them. But the thought of setting my wedding rings aside for a black diamond to symbolise the end of my marriage seemed wrong. Very, very wrong.

So instead I started to research nice claddagh bands. Something that would be meaningful to me, but not [hopefully] elicit questions like a black diamond on my wedding finger would cause. Something substantial that could replace all three rings. But nothing seemed good enough.

The urgency to find a new ring became clear a couple of months ago when I noticed that the rings were starting to get a bit worn because they were clinking together all the time. I became concerned that it would soon ruin the setting on my engagement ring, or potentially the diamond itself. And I could already see how the platinum was wearing.

Then a couple of weeks ago—after a considerable amount of research and soul-searching—I finally ordered a new ring. A simple band with a claddagh engraved in the metal. I decided that it would be my birthday gift to myself.

But when it came in the post a few days ago, I realised that I wasn’t actually ready or willing to give up wearing my rings. So I tried on the new ring with my wedding set and felt that I could live with that. But I wasn’t ready to make the commitment just yet, so I put the new band away and put Paul’s ring back on my finger.

Yesterday morning when I woke up, I opened the box with the new ring once again and stared at it, wondering if I could actually bring myself to remove Paul’s ring for good. I felt so torn, but I knew that I needed to put this new ring on my finger. So I placed it in between Paul’s ring and mine and wore it that way for a couple of hours.

Finally, after I’d taken my foster daughter to day care, I thought I’d give it a shot without Paul’s ring. I removed all of the rings and placed Paul’s on top of his jewellery box before putting the new ring and my wedding rings back on. Then I went to take a shower. And I cried and cried and cried.

It dawned on me that we put so much ceremony into placing an engagement ring or wedding ring on our fingers, but there isn’t a ceremony to mark their removal. After all, there is nothing to celebrate, is there?

I don’t know how I really feel about removing Paul’s ring. I know it doesn’t feel good, but I also don’t feel completely hysterical about it, either. I also can’t promise that next week I won’t put Paul’s ring back on my finger. I suppose that I’ll just do whatever feels right.

As for my own wedding rings, I don’t know how long I’ll wear them. When I first put them on I had all intentions of wearing them for the rest of my life. And maybe I will. Or maybe I won’t. But for now, I can’t bear the thought of being without them. After all, in my heart I am still very much married.

Who knew that a simple piece of jewellery could cause so much thought and so much grief!?

7 Replies to “With this ring”

  1. Thank you for sharing such a thought provoking story with us. I can’t even begin to fully grasp all that you’ve been through but I do appreciate the fact that each person must grieve in his or her own way. When my friend lost her husband (the same year you lost Paul), she turned her husband’s ring into a necklace. She was still wearing it when I saw her at New Year’s.
    I think you’re taking important steps in the right direction….forward. Even if next week you put that ring back on, you’re still moving forward with your life and your dreams. And it is not a simple piece of jewelery, it is a symbol of love. But please know that even without it, you will forever have that connection with Paul in your heart and soul.
    Love you!

  2. Thank you for sharing. I have nothing profound to say. Whatever you decide to do and whenever you decide it is your choice. It is a personal decision and I say shame on anyone who tells you otherwise.

  3. Ah, it really is the seemingly ‘small’ things that mean so much – and Paul’s ring is a symbol – it’s not just a ring. The most important thing to do is to do what makes you happy and comfortable. 🙂 You’ve already progressed to getting the new ring, and that’s a big step – well done! xx

  4. Sometimes I don’t know what to say because I never want to add to any of your sorrow by saying something stupid. But I have a vivid imagination and I, too, married the love of my life, so I just imagine what it would be like to lose him and I just sit here and cry with you.
    I would say to wear his ring for as long as you want without heeding any of the people that say “it’s time”. It’s time when you say it’s time.

  5. I have to agree with all the above as well! That’s the wonderful thing about being an individual is that YOU get to choose what’s right for you & like Amy said “it’s time, when you say it is” The ring indecisions just speak to the true love connection you had with your husband Paul, so let “them” say or believe whatever they will, they could only be so lucky as you! I just wish that someday I am as lucky to have those feelings if the time should ever come~

  6. Like everyone else has said, do what feels right for you and never mind anyone else’s views. they don’t live in your shoes so can’t make the decisions for you or know what’s right or when it’s time, if it ever is.

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