Friday, August 24, 2012

Rings...and setting your own timeline


I had another visit from a sweet recent widowed employee George. This was my third visit since his wife passed 4 weeks ago. I really had never met the man before this.

He came in to change more forms and pulled me aside hurridly and whispered "But I have one more question too."
"Sure George, whats up"
He is obviously upset and keeps wringing his hands, then he looks at me: "What do I do with this?" Pulling at his wedding ring, "Someone asked me when I was going to take it off, and I didn't know the rule. Do I have to take it off?"

Ughh! He nearly broke my poor widowed overly-sensitive heart!
"George! You do whatever the hell you want to do."

"Ohh, ok. Someone asked me, and I didn't know the answer and I thought I'd ask you." He's still nervously fidgeting with his ring. Obviously not satisfied that he was doing the "right thing". **But I am a little flattered that I have suddenly become the how-to-be-widowed expert to a man 2.5 times my age.**

I inhale a deep breath and realize that attacking him into standing up for himself probably isn't the best technique (though usually my go-to method regardless).

"George," I ask, a bit more gently. "Do you still feel married?"
"Well, yes...."
"Then you are still married. Until you want to take that ring off, or move it to the other hand - you have no obligation. Some people leave their wedding rings on for months, some leave it on for years - some only days. Its completely up to you."

He seems relieved that he doesn't have to leave behind his precious ring. We continue on with the rest of the meeting.
...
I really love that he comes and visits me as often as possible. He always shares his achievements in the grief world.
"I made it past one month!"  "I figured out the washing machine!"
We all need a cheerleader sometimes
...

I have struggled with ring issues in my own life too. I used to get really excited when I had a "widows event" because it was the only time I gave myself permission to wear my wedding rings. I had convinced myself that my new boyfriend wouldn't care for me and wouldn't accept me if I was wearing Mike's wedding rings. (I had no basis in reality for this, but it was a really big fear - deepened every time someone asked me... "well what does "E" think about that?" Now I realize that it doesn't matter what anyone thinks about it - as long as I'm being true to myself.)
I LOVE my wedding set - it is very similar to my grandmothers - because it was her mother's. I knew the second that I saw it that it would be my wedding ring. My grandmother had just returned from visiting my cousins and passing out family heirlooms *like grandmas do* and she asked me if I'd like "this". And she pulled out the most perfect wedding set I'd ever seen. It had a unique "crown-like" setting that held the stone close instead of putting it on display and a simple white gold band. It currently had a crystal in it because it was my great-grandmother's "traveling set". This was even more perfect! Mike and I got to pick out the stone we wanted and make it our own. This ring, it just means so much to me, even if I only got to wear it for less than 3 years.

Around my 1 year mark I got myself a present, a "widows ring" . I wore it every day....For about 6 months. Then that didn't feel right anymore either. I felt strangely smothered. I felt stuck, and the ring that brought me closer to Mike when I bought it, felt like it was holding me in the past. So I took it off and added it to the ever-growing pile of unworn Mike-related jewelry.
Band of black stones on a gold side for Mike,
and a band of white diamonds on a white gold band for myself.
I used to carry Mike's wedding ring in my coin purse. I would pull it out occasionally to see the inscription of "My Favorite". It would make me smile to remember that mine says "My Only". Complete with the quotation marks because the form asked what you wanted inscribed and I wrote "my only" and "my favorite". When they arrived, just days before the wedding, and no time to fix it - I had to learn to live with "  ". Much to my own dismay.

I think I may replace the diamond in my great-grandmother's setting with a sapphire someday so it can be reclaimed as my own and worn on my right hand. I'm not really in an expensive-jewelry-wearing place right now. So we'll just wait and see. I also wish I wouldn't have been so timid about listening to my heart and its desires with my ring in the beginning.

I hereby give permission
(because sometimes we feel as if we need to be granted permission)
to anyone to do anything they want
with respect to their wedding rings and their own grief.
Tell them "some crazy widow who calls herself 'button and beans' told me I could!"

What have you done with your ring? 

I've seen beautiful tennis bracelets made, new rings, necklaces....feel free to share your story here - it gives hope and validation to other people who are fighting the same fight.

With Love and Light, 
Jess

2 comments:

Sean Casey said...

I wore my wedding ring for about 7 months after my wife's death, until one day I'd taken it off in the shower and suddenly realized I felt so much lighter not wearing it. To test it out, I'd put it back on, and the heaviness came with it. It's been off my hand ever since. Right now, my wedding ring and hers are sitting together in one of the boxes they came in. Her hands were enough smaller than mine that her ring fits nicely within my own. I don't know that I'll ever wear it again, but I'm good with having it.

I liked the approach you took with him, asking if he still feels married. That sounds like a much better criterion to use than how long it's been or how many people think what. It also does a good job of putting it back into the realm where what he's feeling and how he's doing are the most important things.

---Sean

elysoteric said...

I just found this post, and really enjoyed it. You wrote it just a few days after my husband and I were married, just a few days after he put the ring on my finger. I'm only three and a half months out, and I still wear it. Right now, I feel like I'll never take it off. But, as we know, plans change, so we'll see. Thanks for giving me permission to do whatever I want about the ring.

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