Monday, July 26, 2010

Ringing in Widowhood

As widows, we are so concerned with the wedding ring. When to take it off. What to do with it after. Which one of our kids is really our favorite so we know who to leave it to.

Sometimes I feel completely insecure without my ring. It’s like I've gone outside without pants or something. I feel exposed and vulnerable. There are days when I walk around, feeling like I forgot something important. And then I realize that I have a naked finger where a bejeweled one should be.

I guess it just reminds me that I’m really alone. That I’m no longer half of a partnership. That he is, in fact…gone.

To be honest, sometimes my ring finger just flat-out itches where my wedding ring used to be. It’s like my husband is getting back at me for taking it off by giving me some rare widow fungus.

There are days that I miss it so much. Partly because of what it symbolized and partly because my husband was such a jewelry person and had great taste. What’s funny is that when I was married I didn’t always wear my ring. It wasn’t a conscious move…like I was trying to go out and get me some. Sometimes I was cooking or gardening and didn’t want to get it dirty so I just took it off. Sometimes I was working out and my hands would swell. And sometimes I’d go out for a beer and realize that I’d forgotten to stop at the ATM.

Don’t judge me. My husband was just as frugal as I am. And we always agreed that a free drink is a free drink.

These days, I’ll slip it on again, where it should be, just to feel that security. I know that if I wanted to wear it all the time, I could. But the truth is that I don’t really feel married anymore, so just like not wearing it when I was...I don’t want to wear it now that I’m not.

Taking off your wedding ring is an incredibly personal decision. I don’t know about you all, but I had not really thought about it before my husband died. And then when he was gone, I agonized over it for months. I don’t know what it was, but when I finally decided to not wear it anymore, I felt like I couldn’t go back. It somehow just felt so…final for me.

I think what bothers me the most is that, now that I’m not wearing it, I think people just assume that I’m divorced. It’s like I want to tell every stranger on the street that I’m not single by choice…this was beyond my control. I’m not saying that to be divorced is somehow less acceptable than being widowed. It’s just different.

I wish we could have a widow ring. Can you imagine all the problems that would solve? It wouldn’t be assumed that we’re divorced. And once again, it would be a way to let people know why we’re such a mess. People could ask what’s wrong and we could just give ‘em the finger. So to speak.

And if someone ever comes up with one, I think it should be at least 5 carats of something. We’ve earned it, for crying out loud. That ring should come with your life insurance or social security check. At least one of those damn “thinking of you” cards should come FedEx with a jewelry box attached. And I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman. If you’re a widower, you’re just going to have to suck it up and wear the damn thing.

Just not on your pinky. I’m envisioning it and that’s just creepy.

I mean…seriously. Don’t you think we ought to get something? A merit badge for walking and breathing at the same time. A stamp on our driver’s license that will get us out of any ticket for the rest of our lives. At this point, I’d even take a t-shirt that says, “Widowed: Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.”

I guess until that happens, we’ll all keep going about our business, explaining to strangers why we’re not wearing a wedding band, hoping that it doesn’t inspire them to say something ridiculous. Or cause us to have one of our unexpected meltdowns (which is why I’m on the probation list at Wal-Mart).

And if you ever see a woman out there, walking in circles in an insecure way, looking like she forgot something, itching her ring finger…

…don’t be shy. Say hello. ‘Cause that’s me.

© Catherine Tidd 2010


  1. Although Mike and I were married only 3-1/2 years and I had an engagement ring only a few months before, I still have an indentation where the ring used to be 2-1/2 years later. And, I have a little freckle on the top of my finger.
    When Mike had surgery 5 days before he died, I put his ring on my left ring finger and then butted my rings up next to it. Partly to keep it on, but also to draw me closer. Not sure why. When he had his heart surgery in '06, I put the ring on my thumb.
    I took of my rings one day when I'd just had enough.
    I wore his ring much longer because it was also my dad's ring. Although I'd been married before, I never gave it to the guys I married. Mike was special, different.
    At first I thought I wanted to melt the three rings together and reshape the diamonds from mine. But I like the separateness of the three rings. They're in the box that the wedding ring was in originally, in a dresser where Mike had his clothes. We got engaged at the jewelry store. What a great story. ...

  2. I totally agree. Although I wasn't married... I was engaged and I wear my engagement ring with so much pride. John was so proud of himself for buying it. We were only engaged for 17 days. How unfair is that? The ring I had been waiting years for... and 17 days of it meaning something. It's only been three months since I lost John. It's going to be a long time before I take it off. A very long time.

  3. I could do with one of those stamps on my driving license. I have not had a good year with my car since my husband died. No matter how hard you try to keep going and keep your life together ... The cracks appear somewhere! Glad I am not the only one.

  4. I think you should put it on a necklace. That way it would be close to your heart.

  5. ROFL! WC, you crack me up!! :)

    I took off my ring a few months ago... I was heading out to a conference where I was already gonna get a whole stack of pity, and I didn't want any questions. Like you, the decision to take it off seemed so ... final... as if it were meant to be that way. I might have taken it off sooner, but I didn't really get to wear either of my rings that long. They were beautiful. I wanted to be married SO much.

    Oh, and of course, it seemed a little bit of a waste to just have them sitting in a drawer.

    Oddly enough, just before I read this, I was aching to put them back on. Just to feel them there. My ring finger was heavier than the rest of my hand.

    Blessings Autumn. I wish you an abundance of peace for the journey...

  6. I am so happy to have found your blog! :-) You're posts are "right on" in so many ways!
    I, too, initially thought that people would judge me without my wedding ring... especially with my two young children in tow. Surely people would think... "gee... look at that single girl with two kids... she must have made some poor decisions".
    But at the same time, I learned not to judge others... because they could be in my same shoes.

  7. this one made me laugh out loud, I want a stamp on my license please. Funny but I do get offended if people think Im divorced, I didnt end this marriage, I had no say in that.

  8. I am so happy to have found this blog, your sense of humor is fantastic, thank you

  9. So true, so very true on all counts!! Like many of you, I worry (less now, more when I first took off the rings) about people judging me as a single mom or assuming I am divorced. It's all so hard. I am so tempted to put the rings back on took me 8 months to even change my facebook status to widowed. Love your blog WC...thanks!!