Losing a partner is the hardest thing in the world to deal with. No matter how many years you had together with your partner, it will never feel like enough, and processing your grief and pain will require time and support from family, friends and possibly even professional healthcare providers, too.
Grief is so personal for everyone, so know that there is no one ‘right’ thing to do with sentimental items after a partner has passed; it must be what feels ‘right’ to you. Whatever you decide to do, know that you can take all the time you need to make these personal decisions. It’s completely up to you.
With all of this in mind – if you’re not sure what to do with your wedding ring, here are some ideas:
After a spouse dies, there is no timeframe for when you should stop wearing your wedding ring. In fact, you don’t have to stop wearing it at all. This is a personal decision, so don’t place too much weight on what others say you “should” be doing. There is never a timeline to follow as grief looks so different to everyone.
Tip: If you choose to date again, when the time comes you can move your wedding ring to your right hand, or a different finger on your left hand. This signals to others that you are available, while still allowing you to feel close to the partner you have lost.
Put it on a necklace
If you’d like to keep the physical symbol of your love close to your heart, adding your wedding band to a chain around your neck is a touching way to showcase your love and remembrance for your partner.
Tip: Some people attach two rings to their chain – this is their own wedding band, as well as the wedding band of their partner who has died. Others choose to just wear their own wedding ring.
Redesigning your wedding ring means you’re able to wear it without having to explain its meaning to those around you. And for those who may ask you about it – it might be a nice way to talk about your spouse and your life together.
Tip: Talk to a jeweller about how you can redesign your piece of jewellery. As this keepsake holds many memories and is of particular sentimental value, you may want to meet with a few jewellers to find that special person who just feels right to you. A kind and compassionate jeweller will help make the process just that bit more healing.
If you no longer want to wear your wedding ring but you’d like to keep it close by, placing it in storage is a good option. This also helps buy you some time if you are not ready to make a decision.
Tip: So it doesn’t get damaged, misplaced or lost, consider placing your wedding ring in a fireproof box or a safe deposit box.
Pass it down
Consider passing on your wedding ring to your children or grandchildren, so it becomes a family heirloom. This way, you’ll know that your love lives on and is in safe hands.
Tip: You can pass down your wedding ring to a family member at any time, but if you’re waiting until a family member becomes engaged to do so, be sure to include it as part of your Will to ensure that it is placed in the hands of your chosen recipient.
Once you have weighed up your options, you may decide to donate your wedding ring. There are plenty of non-profit organisations who accept jewellery; just keep in mind that you’ll need to be at peace with not knowing who the new wearer of the ring will be. Some people take comfort in knowing that the ring will give another person or couple joy, and that is healing enough.
Tip: Alternatively, you can give your ring to someone you know, like a couple who are soon to be married. It may bring you peace to know that your love is not only living on, but helping others to create beautiful memories together.
It may take some time before you know what to do with your wedding ring, and that is okay. There is absolutely no rush. At the end of the day, you are the one who is grieving, so allow yourself the time, patience and compassion to make these difficult decisions in your own time, on your own terms.
As you move through your grief, know that with time, you will find yourself in a new stage of life with some gorgeous memories of your partner to remember and share with others, forever.
Further reading about grief:
- Read our guide to adjusting to life without your partner.
- Read our guide on how to support a family member or a friend through grief.
- Read our Complete Guide to Grief Counselling and Bereavement Services.