The Ring Thing

Twenty five years ago, I chaperoned an American woman around an international trade show. American Woman worked for one of our biggest New York-based clients; my role was to show her what a fantastic job we had done licensing Snoopy bubble bath in the shape of a beagle.

Bored of pressing the flesh of manufacturers, American Woman asked to visit one of the jewellery halls. Our business involved fake fur and plastic rather than diamonds, but who was I to argue with a client?

As I trailed after her, American Woman drooled over the brightly lit displays of sparkling engagement rings, pointing out what sort of finger-bauble she was going to choose when she got engaged. I can’t remember her precise requirements, but it was a bit like being in a restaurant when someone orders Off Menu. You know the sort of thing: I’ll have the bacon and blue cheese burger with fries, but with Monterey Jack cheese instead of blue cheese, and no fries, just salad, but if the bun has sesame seeds on it, I won’t have the bun, but then I will have the fries as long as they’re cooked in vegetable oil. Oh, and no bacon. I’m Jewish. 

That happened to me once in a restaurant in Frankfurt with (again) an American client. I thought that the stern German waiter was going to boot us out. I expect that the chef gobbed on our food as revenge.

But I digress.

At some point in this “I want an emerald-cut one-carat diamond with yellow baguette diamond shoulders in a platinum rub over setting yadda yadda yadda,” I asked American Woman what her boyfriend did for a living.

She confessed she didn’t yet have a boyfriend.

She knew what engagement ring she wanted, even what style of dress would suit her (and probably whether to have chicken or fish at the reception). The only uncertainty in all these plans was who was going to be her husband. Eventually she walked up the aisle in her dream dress wearing her dream ring. Unfortunately it wasn’t with her dream guy. A few years later they divorced.

This bride-in-waiting attitude was totally alien to me. I was never going to get married or wear a wedding ring. To me, a wedding and engagement ring was a sign of being owned, an old-fashioned symbol of an outdated institution tantamount to having TAKEN tattooed across my forehead.

Back in the days when I had a waist and no wrinkles, I was young, foolish and stroppy, but when I changed my mind about marriage and found myself outside a jewellers with JS, I knew exactly what sort of ring what I wanted: a modern design which looked nothing like a traditional engagement ring.

I walked out with the same style of ring as my grandmother and mother wore, a diamond solitaire, possibly the most traditional and engagement-like ring you could choose.

I’ve never pretended that my mind works in a rational way.

So there I was, married with rings. I know women who say that their ring has never been off their finger since their wedding day, but because of bouts of contact dermatitis, my nuptial bling has been on and off like a new bride’s nightie. At the first itch I’d remove my all my rings (I wear two on my right hand as well) and holding them with the bacon tongs, JS would clean them by blasting them under the steam nozzle of the Cappuccino machine and scrub them with an old toothbrush. I’d leave my hands naked for a week or so until everything calmed down, and when it did, I’d pop them back on.

Sometimes I enjoyed the feeling of a naked ring finger. Sometimes I would look at my hand and waggle my fingers and feel a heady sense of freedom. However much I loved JS, that old fear of entrapment was never far away. I kept my maiden name, we didn’t have a joint bank account, and even at the funeral some mourners didn’t realise JS and I were married until I was referred to as his wife. With one dead wife and one divorced wife, I used to joke that becoming Mrs S was unlucky.

Now there is a widowed wife.

Me.

Hat trick.

When JS died, my relaxed attitude to my wedding rings was turned on its head, and I began to exhibit some bizarre ring-related behaviour.

At some point in the first few months on Planet Grief, standing at a bus stop or in a shop queue, I became obsessed with looking at the wedding ring fingers of other women. If the woman was pretty and not wearing a wedding ring, I’d wonder what was wrong with her to still be single. If she was overweight and unkempt and ring-less I’d think, No wonder she isn’t married! If she was overweight and unkempt and had a wedding ring, I’d feel annoyed that she hadn’t kept herself nice for her husband. If she was gorgeous and had a ring I’d think, Lucky cow.

Like I say, I have never pretended that my mind works in a rational way at the best of times, but in grief, I was completely bonkers.

In one trauma counselling session I rounded angrily on Doktor R when she pointed out that I was no longer married. I would always be married to JS whatever the legalities of the situation were. I would wear my rings and even if hell froze over and I met someone else, I would NEVER EVER take my rings off.

Doktor R suggested that some widows hold onto the idea of being married to their late husbands (even though the stark fact is that they aren’t married any longer) because it gives them status in society, their rings a symbol that they had been desired enough to be someone’s wife and a safety net against being single in a challenging couple-dominated world. I was incensed. Marriage to me meant more than a ring on my finger or the prefix Mrs. It wasn’t just about romantic love. It meant looking out for each other, looking after each other, supporting each other. Teamwork.

I sacked her.

And yet now, ten months after that session, I wonder if Doktor R had a point about safety and status.

A little while ago I was in a hairdressers in north London. I’d nipped in to buy some shampoo. I’d been walking The Hound and was out sans slap, hair piled up and in my old Puffa coat; in other words, I looked a middle-aged minger. I found myself waiting at the till behind a couple of over-groomed snotty Yummy Mummies with big rocks. There was an argument between the sales assistant and the women, and everyone became restless. I sighed “Oh come on!” under my breath. The Gruesome Twosome glared at me.

And then I found myself doing the once unthinkable.

Because of the Death Diet, my rings are looser than they were, so my solitaire often faces my palm. Dear Reader, I swivelled my diamond to the front and put my hand so they could see I was wearing a wedding and engagement ring. Never in a million years would I have done that before. Why was it so important to me that those stuck-up women thought I was married, that I was one of them, that I had a husband at home rather than just some saddo singleton off the street with a dog and nothing better to do than wait to buy a bottle of colour-protecting shampoo before going home to a glass of sherry and a chilled meal for one? You’d have to ask my subconscious mind, because my conscious mind was freaked (and intrigued) by my behaviour.

Shortly after this Look At My Ring! I’m Wearing One So I Must Be Married! peacock strut, I had a problem with a creepy tree surgeon doing work at my house. He must have noticed that I was wearing a wedding ring because he asked what my husband did and whether he was around. At that point, I was glad that he thought I was married, though it didn’t stop him being difficult over something else, an argument which ended up with me phoning Gorgeous Grey-Haired Widower and pretending to the tree guy that I was on the phone to my husband who was working away. (He was a lawyer in New York, in case you’re wondering what other tale I spun.)

Showing those women in the shop I was married; giving tree surgeons, men in bars and mini cab drivers the impression there is a husband on the scene; pretending I still have a husband: perhaps Doktor R was right about status and safety. A woman I know still wears her rings many years after a very bitter divorce because she says it makes her feel safer. Pre JS’s death I couldn’t understand her stance, now I do, although my experience of meeting men in my married days is that if they are going to hit on you, they’ll hit on you, even if you’re displaying a symbol of betrothal.

So, I’m still wearing my rings, and yet as I approach the first anniversary of JS’s death, I no longer feel married, or at least as married as I felt this time last year or even just before Christmas. Christmas without JS was a turning point for me. Before Christmas I went on a date and ended up bursting into tears and sobbing “I still feel married!” in front of the poor man. I still spontaneously burst into tears, but with every hurdle I either jump or crash through, I can feel the bonds of my marriage vows loosening.

To confuse matters, I don’t feel unmarried, single in the way I did before I met JS, and I still feel very cherished and loved by my late husband and vice versa. But married in the true sense and present tense?

No.

JS and I were a team both at home and at work, with each other 24/7/365 for more than two decades, and now there is just me. You can’t be a team of one. For me (and I know of several of you will disagree vehemently with me), to be married, truly married, means you need a spouse who is still alive.

In some ways this feeling is a relief as I know it is a marker of moving forward, and yet in others, a great sadness as it means acknowledging that a phase of my life is over. Now, when I look at my rings they still remind me of being loved, but they also remind me of loss, of a marriage that ended in tragedy. JS put them on my finger in Barbados overlooking the same stretch of sea that destroyed his life and our marriage. That circle of fate still takes my breath away.

Talking of things circular, since my fortieth birthday when JS gave me diamond earrings, it was a standing joke between us that he’d have to come up with something even more spectacular if I was to get out of bed on my much-dreaded fiftieth. JS promised to buy me a yellow-diamond ring. He’d tell our friends that he had diamond mines all over the world looking for just the right gems, because if they were the wrong ones, his life wouldn’t be worth living. He was teasing of course, but I knew he’d do it. It makes me tearful (as I type) to think of it, not because of the lack of bling, but because JS won’t be here for my half-century to tell me all those things he used to say to me when I moaned about ageing: that he loved me more the older I got; that to him I would always be the girl of twenty-three he saw standing by the photocopier in a grey jersey BHS dress (my only dress), sent from the temp agency in place of the fifty-year old experienced secretary they were promised.

Two lots of digression in one post. You can tell the state of my brain.

In the privacy of my own home I’ve moved my rings and other dress rings about, but nothing feels right, particularly a naked finger, although oddly, taking all my rings off, left and right hand, feels fine. Once, I moved them prior to a lunch date with friends and family, only to sit in the car at traffic lights and frantically move them back. That time it wasn’t because it didn’t feel right, but because I worried what the others would think if they noticed. I still worry what others might think.

One night I Googled grief boards to see what other women had done. Some widows had diamonds made from their husband’s ashes and incorporated into a new ring to wear on their left hand, but that’s not for me. I don’t want to wear my rings around my neck which was another popular option. Some widows had bought a Widow’s Ring, a dark-stoned ring for their left hand and moved their wedding rings to their right hand, but I’m not a fan of black stones, nor do I want to be reminded that I am a widow. Others had opted to have their gems re-set into a different ring incorporating the gold from their husband’s ring. JS hated jewellery and didn’t wear a ring, so although this would be my favoured choice, it’s not an option, but I did start looking at designs these widows had posted. I found myself becoming that American woman I knew twenty-five years ago, looking at rings and thinking, “I could do that, but without this, and maybe in platinum instead of gold…” and then I thought, “WTF am I doing slobbering over ring designs as if I’m newly engaged?”

A week or so ago I made a decision that on the 27th February I was going to remove my wedding rings. I was firm in my intentions.

A few days later I went to a party. I had a fantastic time, but I found myself checking out which women were wearing wedding rings and I felt thankful to be wearing mine.

Perhaps I will take my wedding rings off soon. Maybe I’ll move them to my right hand and the rings on my right hand to my left one. Perhaps I’ll get the diamonds reset.

Perhaps I’ll put them away and buy myself something new and fabulous, or new and fake. Maybe I’ll stop wearing any rings on any finger. Maybe I’ll sign up for a jewellery and gem course and make my own ring. Perhaps I’ll have my naval pierced and put the diamond in there. Perhaps I’ll follow Madonna’s lead and wear fingerless gloves and hide my fingers.

Actually, when I started this piece I really didn’t know what I was going to do, but now, at the end of it, I do. In case I change my mind (yet again), I’ll take my time before I do it.

I may no longer feel married, but the madness of grief isn’t over yet, far from it. I’m still living in some sort of limbo land.

For now, the rings are staying put.

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28 Responses to The Ring Thing

  1. denise says:

    when my mum was widowed at 46, she gave me her engagment ring – because my daddy was buried on my birthday – but her wedding ring’ will have to be taken off her finger when she’s dead’. She has had relationships since then and has been with Peter – for several years – but she says she is still married to Den – and she is still Mrs Rhodes.

    • Planet Grief says:

      Thanks Denise. Good to hear from you.

      I suspect that if I had taken my husband’s name and used Mrs then I would be Mrs S forever, or at least until such time as Arsene Wenger realised I was the only woman for him (think of the tickets!).

      Seriously, thank you for your input. x

  2. Holly says:

    Hi Helen
    Was thinking about you over the weekend, about the run up to the first year anniversary for you. I agree with you over so many things (maybe because I’m just a little further down the journey than you by a few months?). The counsellor was probably right, but I think they should drip feed us with information at the right time, ie it was far too early for you.

    I remember having a completely bonkers conversation with Paul the Bacon Butty Man. Now, I don’t know this man very well at all … I frequent his van only after a really excessive night out and am in “sod it” mood. So why I felt the need to buy two bacon butties, telling him how much Len enjoyed them, insisting on Daddies brown sauce (that I really hate) and banging on about my husband .. then got into my car and drove home, sobbing, bunging both said butties in the bin. Weird. I think I was a little nuts before all this cancer malarky, but could be classed as bone fide insane for the first few months of my widowhood.

    I took my wedding ring off after a few months but kept my engagement ring on. Maybe it was out of respect for my new relationship, and also I felt “oh my god, I’m 38, time’s running out to have another baby, got to find a man whilst I can still get undressed without too much shame, bastard bloody death” .. see, told you I was nuts. Kept the engagement ring on mainly because it’s 3 carats of diamonds and I like it.

    But then my feelings for Jamie overtook everything else, and I wanted to just be me for a little while, before I accepted a new engagement ring (which I also like very much, not so flash, but actually more practical day to day). I was ringless and happy about it for a few months. The Village People were shocked (this was when my “I don’t grieve enough” rumour started) but actually, it felt right for me. And bugger everyone else. On the grief internet sites people get very passionate about the subject of rings … seems to be one of the most controversial topics that bereaved people talk about. Which is quite interesting, why we get so worked up about these symbols of our marriage, whilst other controversial decisions are just accepted as the choice of the widow/widower. You know me well enough to know that I’m a woolly liberal and a true believer in “horses for courses” ….

    Enough rambling from me … just to add that my decisions seem to wax and wane with the moon sometimes, in regard to death. All part of the acceptance process probably

    H xxxx

    • Planet Grief says:

      Holly – brilliant to hear from you.

      Three carats (*sigh*).

      I suspect (having seen the photos) that you will never have to worry about getting undressed at any age. Curves will always be in, whereas skinny is OK when you are in your twenties, but just scraggy in your forties.

      You are so right of course, the waxing and waning of these feelings. I never understood the whole ‘leave it a year before making any firm decisions’ until much later on, but now I do. The only quick decision I made was to sell JS’s German 4×4 tank which I did within weeks of his death. In the recent snow and unable to get my little Fiat 500 out of the garage, how I wished I had that North London Tractor.

      I’m digressing in a reply. Things must be bad.

      Much love. xx

  3. KT says:

    Hi HB,
    Rings stayed firmly put for the first year, then came 3 or so months of constantly moving them from one hand to the other at hourly intervals. Finally with the acceptance that I was no longer married (till death us do part) came the realisation that seeing the rings just made me sad and reminded me what I’d lost. At that point I took all rings off (including one I wore on my right hand) and have felt comfortable with the decision but safe in the knowledge there is nothing to stop me putting them on if I ever feel like wearing them even for just one day.

    • Planet Grief says:

      KT: Thank you for contributing.

      You know, reading your post and a few others that have come in since it, I have realised what a total klutz I have been. My personality is very much: right, get on with it, make a decision and stick to it. This is true of ordering from a menu and buying a house. With the ring thing it was a similar state of mind: I needed to make a decision and then live with the decision. What never occurred to me until now was just what you say in your final line: that there is nothing to stop me putting them on (or taking them off again) for a short while, a long while, whatever. Why the heck did I feel that any decision I made had to be final? Idiocy, grief, lack of flexibility of thinking? Probably all three.

      Thank you. xx

  4. LARAINE MASON says:

    Hi Helen,
    I do so ‘enjoy’ reading your blogs. Even at almost four years I can identify with a many of my own thought processes from those early days. As my first anniversary approached I can remember writing on the MW site that I had no desire to be defined by my untimely widowhood, and I sincerely hope that I don’t turn into one of those little grey haired old ladies sat at the back of church about whom people whisper, ‘she’s the one whose husband died when her children were only ……….etc etc.’
    Anyway, I’m digressing, but I shall blame that on my woolly head which is full of cold and stuff, which I am nursing in bed whilst watching daytime TV and eating Cadbury Twirl bars.
    I am still wearing my rings. I wear a plain gold band with my engagement ring on my left hand, and my eternity ring together with a broader gold band on my right hand. I chose these rings, with Mark, and I don’t see why I should take them off and hide them away for my girls to wear/sell/whatever when I am dead. I like them, and wish to continue to wear them, and for the time being that is what I shall do. This is a very personal journey and I think we have to do what suits us. However, even in the matter of rings, I have encountered unwelcome interference from those who have no right whatsoever to comment. When I first dabbled with dating, a friend (still married) asked outright whether I was now going to take my rings off – and looked horrified when I explained why I wasn’t going to – in those early days I felt I had to justify my every action – now I would just tell them to get lost (in fact I have told this one to get lost since, but for other reasons!). On another occasion a man (and I use the term loosely) who I met for coffee after I had made contact with him through a dating site, asked me why I was still wearing my rings, adding that ‘surely there must be some rule about rings for people like you……’ (The same man told me he had put Rohipnol in my drink when I came back from the loo….!).
    Certainly I wouldn’t feel right without my rings; they are a part of me, and I have worn them for over 16 years now – so for the time being at least they are staying put!
    xx

    • Planet Grief says:

      Laraine: I’m glad you enjoy reading the blog, because I value your replies (and like your approach to posting on Facebook). Hope the cold is abating. Just been through that myself.

      Completely taken aback by the comment from Coffee Creep – “people like you”! Good heavens! I know we widows and widowers sometimes feel alienated at times, but I hadn’t realised that we are viewed as a different race. As for the Rohipnol comment, I hope you said that you peed in his when he wasn’t looking.

      Love and solidarity against creeps. xx

  5. Linz says:

    Hi, I’ve been thinking of you too, like Holly, in the run up to the anniversary.
    I have taken my wedding ring off – one day a few weeks ago it felt like the right thing to do. I am no longer married, and I felt that I wasn’t, and I’m not. I wear my engagement ring on and off, sometimes on my left hand, sometimes on my right, but while I automatically used to put it on every morning, without fail, it is surprising how quickly the habit has been lost. I understand completely what your counsellor meant though – the days I put it on I do so because I want people to know that I was loved, I had found a wonderful man who loved me, and chose me, and would have done anything for me, I used to be someone’s special person. I will probably get it re-sized and wear it on my right hand, as it is a beautiful ring. Don’t know what happens if I meet someone else… do I get a new one?!!
    This weekend I went and bought a new carpet. I took my mum, and the carpet man assumed that I was a “Miss.” I didn’t correct him, but it made me sad.
    Lots of love Helen. xx

    • Planet Grief says:

      Lovely Linz: Your posts are always so beautiful: haunting yet full of hope.

      It is interesting you mention about habits. I didn’t want to put JS’s watch (which he loved) in my hand luggage coming back from Barbados so although it’s massive on my tiny wrist, I wore on the flight home alongside my watch, still set to Caribbean time. I vowed to keep both watches on and JS’s on that time zone until the first anniversary. Every night when I took it off I’d kiss the watch and lay it alongside my own on the chest of drawers. Then my watch stopped working, so reluctantly I changed the time of JS’s watch to UK time but kept wearing it. I put my own watch in for repair and at some point taking off JS’s watch at night I realised that I hadn’t kissed it, in fact I have no idea when I last did. The man at the jewellers then said that the two watches together were scratching each other and so when I got my watch back I wore it and put JS’s away. My arm feels lighter without it in more ways than one.

      This may be inappropriate (because I hated it when others said it to me), but you are young (OK, they didn’t say that), lovely (or that) and full of life (er..), but I truly hope that you will meet someone who will be entirely different from James, but still has the qualities you loved about him, and that this man will be kind and funny and smart and cherish you. I’m not a betting woman, but I’d be prepared to have a little bet that you will. xx

  6. Lizzie says:

    Hey lovely lady,
    Although i tend not to wear any rings (or watch) at the weekend (precious metals/stones and gardening/chores etc dont mix well), I go through phases as to whether I wear my eternity ring (which Ian bought me the week before he died when we celebrated our 21st anniversary), wedding or engagement rings. At present I am going through a ‘non ring’ phase. A couple of weeks ago, I was wearing just the eternity ring which I found gave me some comfort. The full set on my finger now feels a little less like the new me and more like the old me if that makes any sense.
    As ever, follow your instinct. Xx

    • Planet Grief says:

      Lizzie: You wrote: The full set on my finger now feels a little less like the new me and more like the old me if that makes any sense.

      And I say: Total sense.

      x

  7. Sophie Day says:

    Hey you. I hadn’t really thought much about this until I read your post. Then I realised that actually I think about it every day!! Some days I panic if I realise I am not wearing all my rings, and his strung around my neck. Other days after hand creaming and when feeling less sentimental I wear none of them and it doesn’t bother me when I realise that. It’s just a very personal day to day thing I suppose. My engagement ring was £70 from a weird little second hand shop in Brecon. Actually we bought it this week three years ago a few days after he’d proposed to me while I was sitting on the loo (!). A few tiny diamonds in a cluster that is impossible to clean. But it fitted perfectly and I love it because it reminds me of our little winter half term break and the excitement of it all – we didn’t tell anyone for days, it was our brilliant secret. I also have a wedding ring and a second hand eternity type ring that I got for the grand price of £25 a couple of months after the accident. I love the look of the three of them together and they all have slightly different meanings for me. Sometimes I am out and about and observe other people noticing me wearing, or not wearing my rings. It used to be an obsession to make sure they were there and not forgotton, now I’m a bit more relaxed. I’m not sure who mentioned chores, but having an allotment, and being a bicycle enthusiast means that they are often on and off. Sometimes I forget to put them back on and do feel rather bare and like I’ve left Luke behind somewhere. Personally I don’t like that feeling – I still eagerly feel married to him and proud to be. So it suits me to keep my strong Mrs Day identity and keep my rings on most of the time. But it’s important to make your own rules. I’ve got a man on the go, he says he feels fine about me wearing my rings. And not uncomfortable if I explain to people when we are together why I am wearing them.

    Do whatever you feel is right and have the courage to know that however you feel and whatever you want to do is right for you. It seems to me that you have a very healthy approach to this grief business. Keep up the good work xx

    • Planet Grief says:

      Sophie: Thanks you. I love reading these snippets of your life with Luke (the rings, the loo…!)

      I never had a strong Mrs S identity. Funnily enough, it was only after JS died that I added his surname (in brackets) to my Facebook profile. I do wish I hadn’t been quite so bolshie about it; I know he would have liked me to take his name at least personally, if not professionally.

      More sadness and too late now to say, “In hindsight, I was wrong.”

      xx

  8. Denise J. says:

    Hi Helen,

    I wore my wedding and engagement rings for about 2 1/2 years and then decided to take my wedding ring off as I no longer felt married. I didn’t feel unmarried either but it just seemed a natural thing to do for me. I always wear my engagement ring unless I’m doing something like gardening as it’s a pretty ring, my husband gave it to me, it’s mine, so why the heck shouldn’t I wear it? No-one has actually made any comment, apart from a man I saw a few times from a dating site who was quite shocked that I was still wearing a ring “as it would put men off”. Anyway he’s long gone! I do have a new man but he’s a widower and understands the little quirks of us widows. It’s a personal choice. When my mother was widowed at age 59 she kept her wedding ring on and it stayed there until she died at age 90.

    Interesting blog.

    Denise J. xxx

    • Planet Grief says:

      Denise J: Thank you for your comments. Appreciate you taking the time to log in.

      I have heard other widows mention that rings might put a new man off, but I wonder. I’ve found that men (and women) can find out how the land lies pretty quickly eg the man you meet in a bar who says, “I’d buy you a drink, but I wouldn’t want to upset your husband,” can be replied to either with, “No you wouldn’t, he plays second row in our rugby team” or, “Unfortunately he’s not around to upset,” depending on how you feel and whether man in bar appears a prize prat or not.

      The Gorgeous Grey-Haired Widower is an expert at dealing with widows’ (and my non-grief) quirks. When ‘interviewed’ for this blog post, he said he hadn’t even thought about my rings. He had taken his wedding ring off a long time ago, but in a shocking display of two-facedness, I think I might find it a bit strange if he still had his.

      Thanks again.

  9. Emma says:

    Evening,

    We have had this discussion offline but wanted to share on here also….

    I am approaching the one year annniversary also, and wanted to put down (briefly) what my story is with regards to rings etc….
    I wore my wedding ring (£10 from Camden Market), and I wore an Ankh pendant that Mark had given me for our first Christmas and hadn’t taken off since. I put Mark’s wedding ring onto this pendant and wore it until November.
    I felt I was carrying my grief around like a millstone, and advertising Mark around my neck. So I made the decision to take it off… and immediately felt the psychological weight lift off my shoulders…
    Then as far as my wedding ring was concerned, well I made the choice that I didn’t feel married anymore, I technically wasn’t married (I need an alive husband for that). I made the decision that on the 22nd Feb(first anniversary) that I would take my ring off then.
    Events happened since, and circumstances involving a new relationship… mean I made the choice to take my ring off back in January.. It didn’t feel right to proceed with this new guy until I had removed my ring.

    So there goes my story… ready to say goodbye to Mark on the 22nd February and carry his legacy within me, I am a product of him and all he taught me… I am Emma, no longer the wife of Mark… moving forward in my life as needs to be. I choose to be here….

    xxxxxx

    • Planet Grief says:

      Emma: Thank you for sharing this with the others. I was touched that over a bacon brioche recently, you confided in me the twists and turns your life has taken since Mark’s death. You’ve been through the mill, but here you are, an amazing woman in so many ways, forever changed, but better, not bitter.

      When you and I sat by the Thames last summer, it seemed inconceivable to both of us that we would be able to roar with laughter again or feel any lightness of heart. But we do, even if sadness still hovers.

      See you soon. xxxx

    • Jane says:

      Carrying his legacy, so true and so good to hear.
      Xxx

  10. Gaynor says:

    PG your words always strike a chord with me and raise a smile in this bleak grief thing.

    I have tried to take my rings off but there is a permanent indentation on my finger where they sit. I don’t know what is worse – the constant reminder from seeing the rings or the pain of seeing the dent where something I love has gone :(

    • Planet Grief says:

      Gaynor: I don’t have a dent, but I know exactly what you mean. Rings on or rings off, either choice just seems to underline the loss.

      Gloves. I’m going to wear gloves. I’ll pretend I have a germ phobia or something.

      Seriously, my humour is shot with sadness for all of us, because whatever we do and however ‘comfortable’ we end up with our fingers, it’s far from ideal…

      xxx

  11. Angie says:

    Hi P.G. For the last 10 years of my 28 year marriage I never wore a wedding ring; I put on a lot of weight and my original ring didn’t fit me any longer, Malc never minded, and neither did I, and not one person ever commented. Within 2 months of being widowed 3 different people commented that I had taken my wedding ring off?! So I told them I hadn’t worn one for the last 10 years of my married life and remarked how odd it was that no one made any comment during that whole time, yet now people are noticing! Anyway I realised that this was evidently something people ‘noted’ and also because I wanted to mark our wedding anniversary in some way after Malc’s death I had a new ring made, and had his name inscribed inside it. Actually it was quite funny when I went to choose this ring because my Son took me, the ring I wanted was quite a lot of money, but my Son was urging me to buy it if I liked it – you should have seen the look on the shop assistant’s face!! It took me some time to realise that she mistakenly thought my Son was my fiance…red faces all round and quick explanations ensued lol.

    Reading back over everyone’s posts it looks as though, most feel the time to remove them, is once we no longer feel married, and then only if we wish to.

    • Planet Grief says:

      Angie: I had to laugh at the story of you and your son’s trip to the jewellers. Maybe she thought you were a cougar, or, genuinely young enough to be marrying a young man.

      I think the name inscribed inside the ring is a gorgeous touch.

      When I was forty I bought myself a lovely ring to wear on my right hand. It was a symbol of how far I’d come after a difficult few years. The idea was that I would look at it and remind myself of that. I do. Maybe I will do something similar.

      Always look forward to your input. Thank you. xxxx

  12. Deena says:

    I had not intended to respond to this, as trying to recover from a chest infection that has left me exhausted and down in the pits of darkness. I have a completely different outlook on the ring and name thing, as I did not start to wear my ring or use my married name until after Ted’s death.
    When we met, he bought me a beautiful 5 diamond ring, which I did wear on my “married ” finger, it was very much Bling and suited the life we had. When we married I did not want a wedding ring and we used the diamond one for the ceremony.
    Fast forward a few years and on our annual visit to Dublin in December each year, I saw the perfect “us” ring.
    Not being one for jewellery I rarely wore anything apart from earrings. My hand bare until he died. From the day he died I have never taken that ring off.
    I used my previous name of Deena Lawrence in Business for the duration of my working life. On the 18th November 2010 I set up a new email account in my married name and notified everyone in my address book, my first reply was from Ted saying how pleased he was that I was finally using my married name of Lansdowne. He died the next day.
    My wearing of a ring and using his name is constant now, a way of life that I do not want to ever give up. I am sad that I was not prepared to wear his ring or use his name whilst he was alive. I was very much Deena Lawrence and ringless throughout our years together, it did not seem important at the time. Now I wear my ring and use his name with pride, in a weird way that makes me feel close to him.
    It has shocked me to think that I am no longer married, through these posts, the death us do part, I had never given thought to.
    I so understand the removal of rings, a way forward, as we are not “married” any longer, but for me its been the opposite, I am clinging to having been married and the pretence that I still am. At almost 15 months my life is different, turned upside down and trying to make a new life out of what is left, but my ring and name are an important part of whatever I have left.
    All our paths are taking us in different directions, some things that meant so much are no longer important as we bravely walk on, into the unknown future.
    Whichever path we take, the love remains strong and forever, for some there will be another “love” different but equally important. We are still alive and must live and gain whatever comfort we can find.
    This grief thing is strange, I know that I am now grieving for me and what I have lost, where in the beginning of this journey I grieved for the life Ted had lost.
    xxxxxxxxx

  13. Jane says:

    I missed this when it came out because I was ‘away’ in my first year re run. It was interesting – it never occurred to me to remove my rings at a year and have no plans to do so in the imminent future. I do still feel kind of married – kind of. At some point I may have his and mine melted together for the other hand. I like your idea of buying a symbolic ring… Who knows, it’ll come to me when it’s right. I always wear the ring his mum gave me when I’d not long met her, it’s very special and I feel so connected to both of them thru it.
    Inching along
    Love always
    Jane in year two xxx

  14. ChrisJ says:

    Rings symbolise many things and the meanings can relate to attachment, perception and judgement. Individual and social. It is a regular subject on forums and I have nothing further to add.

    Reason for posting (again, sorry), and it is a digression, a lot of the papers picked up the grief topic from The Lancet: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736%2812%2960248-7/fulltext

    There is a tendency for the mind to approach grief as a problem that needs to be fixed since that is the usual rational approach. The trick is to recognise that these thoughts are perfectly normal like the weather and to watch the dark clouds pass.

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