Since ancient times, the wedding ring has been worn on the left-hand ring finger. According to an article in Vanity Fair (and other research), the left-hand ring finger was thought to have a vein that runs directly to the heart. The ring itself is supposed to symbolize the eternal nature of the union, with the open center representing an open portal to the unexplored life of the couple.
I have had the same engagement and wedding rings since my husband proposed (1992) and we married (1993). I was one of those people who hardly ever took my rings off. When I played golf, or to clean the rings I would remove them, but I never really took the rings off for extended periods of time.
When my husband passed away (July 24, 2016) I researched what others did with their wedding rings. I had trouble sleeping after he passed away. There were many nights when questions would just run through my head. I’m sure there were many thoughts I looked up in the wee hours of the night during the first year
“Should you continue wearing your wedding ring after your spouse dies”one of many questions i googled the first year
My research did not come up with a definitive answer about how long widows/widowers wore their rings. Most of the articles came to the same basic conclusion, “do what is right for you.”
That made me feel better. I did not want to take off my wedding ring because when it came right down to it I still felt married. I was not ready to date, which was one common reason people decided to remove their rings.
I continued to wear my wedding rings until December 9th, 2017.
Why that specific date? That was the day I went into the hospital to have a procedure on my hip. I took my rings off that morning before heading to the hospital (ok, hospital stays were other reasons I took my rings off in the past).
The procedure I went in for turned into much more and I was in the hospital for about 10 days and actually had all of the prosthesis removed from my body (you can read more about that here). Not only did I stay in the hospital for 10 days, but I was also on antibiotics and other medications when I did come home.
When I came home from the hospital I was using a walker to get from my bed to a recliner. I didn’t really think about putting on my wedding ring. I was just trying to figure out this new situation without a hip joint.
As time passed I thought I had made the right decision.
Until one day, a few months ago I pulled my rings back out and put them on again. Why? Well, I felt like taking the rings off in December 2017 hadn’t really been my decision. I just took them off because of the hospital visit. Additionally, I was feeling disconnected. Disconnected from my husband (yes, I know that sounds strange since he has been gone for more than 3 years, but grief can make you think strange things) and disconnected from the signs I felt he used to send me.
Putting the rings on I was hoping to feel close to him again. I think I wanted to go back to those times when I felt like I was getting signs from him that were encouraging and maybe the ring was a portal, the sign of an eternal union. The signs had been less and less and I really wanted to get that connection back. I missed them. I missed him. I missed us.
A few weeks ago I had one of those aha moments (I seem to have those a lot lately about weird things but that is another story).
I was placing heavy expectations on these wedding rings. It was as though I was asking J.R. to send me signs. Signs I was making the right decisions. Signs that he was still looking down on me and watching over me.
Then it dawned on me: I was seeking signs from J.R. instead of trusting God.
The rings were an outward sign that I belonged to J.R. But honestly, I belong to God. And what outward sign am I showing that I am his child?
I took off my wedding rings after my AHA moment -not because I am ready to date (not sure that I will ever be ready) and not because I’m going into the hospital (thank goodness) – I took them off because I realized I was putting my trust in the seen (the wedding rings) and not the unseen (God). Even in this time of isolation amidst the coronavirus, I have not reached for them to put them back on. Instead, I’m keeping my focus on God and trusting the unseen.