‘Would I get more male attention?’ I worried how it would look. Would I feel ashamed?’: Widow removes wedding ring after husband’s death, ‘He is with me. Nothing will ever change that.’

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“As I stand before my husband’s ‘shrine,’ I look at his picture. His smile is beaming. I took that picture and that smile was for me. Next to his picture are his ashes in a lovely urn with the tree of life on it. Then in front, are our rings. Symbols of our devotion to one another. Symbols of unity. Symbols of trust and respect. Symbols of love that will never end.

Courtesy of Brianna Simpson

I had no idea when I would take my rings off. But, I knew if I followed my heart that I could never go wrong. I also knew that taking them off didn’t mean I couldn’t put them back on again either. It also didn’t mean that I didn’t love him anymore or that I had moved on. Because let’s be honest, no one moves on from the death of their husband, we move forward. We carry them in our hearts and minds for the rest of our lives. We see them in our children’s faces and hear them in their laugh. So, taking off my rings doesn’t mean that I don’t think about him every day or that I don’t cry in my bed at night wishing he was there beside me. It just means that I am ready for the next steps of my life. Whatever that may be. Removing my rings was an incredibly personal choice that involved no one else but myself. Of course, I worried about what people might think or possibly say. But to my surprise, no one said a word. And it was such a beautiful feeling to be able to make that choice so freely.

The removal of rings is a quiet thing. There was no pros/cons list made or big to do. I silently made the decision. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, I one day decided to lay my engagement ring down. I don’t know why or what compelled me to. I just felt ok with not putting it on. There was something about just having the wedding band around my finger that felt oddly right. I went on like this for about a month.

Then, about 5 months after his death, I decided to take my wedding band off. As I toyed with the idea (because for me, this was a much bigger decision) I worried how it would look. I worried about being seen as a single mother, and a single woman. ‘Would I start to get more male attention? Would I feel ashamed about taking it off? Would I feel judged?’ I in many ways felt ready for this next step, but I was incredibly worried about what others would think. ‘Would they notice? Would they care? Would they think differently of me?’ I didn’t want my family and friends to think badly of me or that I was ‘over it.’ I remember the first day I removed it. I was going out with girlfriends. We were having a girl’s night and I made the decision to not wear it out that night. It wasn’t that I was looking to meet someone, it was that if I could be comfortable in the presence of my friends, then I could slowly make the transition. That night was one of the most fun nights I had in a long time. I truly felt like the old me. I felt in control and beautiful and like the vibrant young woman I am. I never once felt weird about my rings being gone. I knew then, that I had made the right choice. That it was ok to do this. That my timeline was mine. There is no right or wrong time to remove your rings. When you know. You know. And I felt like I knew.

Courtesy of Brianna Simpson

The next day was our 7th wedding anniversary and Father’s Day. A double whammy. As I awoke that morning, I couldn’t help but feel paralyzed by the sadness. I was so happy yesterday. And now. I was the complete opposite. I got up, picked up my wedding band and slipped it on my finger. I laid in bed and sobbed uncontrollably for a while. I let the grief wash over me. I thought about our wedding day. I recalled his face as I walked down the aisle. He was a blubbering baby and it was so indicative of how much he loved me. He was the biggest softy, with a huge romantic heart. I remembered how much fun we had dancing the night away with family and friends. How we exited the venue with sparklers and then went to 7/11 to get Slurpees after. That when we were checking out no one said a word to us even though I was in my wedding dress and he was in his suit. Later that night our friends brought a tray of leftover fried chicken from the dinner and we all sat on the bed together and gorged on it. That day was so lovely. Everything about it was wonderful, even the things that didn’t go as smoothly as planned. I looked at my ring and felt calm. I wore it the rest of the day to give me strength. And it did.

Courtesy of Brianna Simpson

The following day I placed it with my engagement ring next to his urn and picture. I knew that if I ever needed to, I could put it on again. And I have a couple of times, because well, I can. And then I can take it off again. There are no rules to this. None. Zero. You can wear your wedding rings for days, months, years. You can take them off the day after he died or 20 years down the road. A ring is an object. Love is forever. As I go forward with my life, I will always carry Albert with me. He is a part of me. He is a part of our son, Theo. Nothing will ever change that.”

Courtesy of Brianna Simpson

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Brianna Simpson of Fredericksburg, Virginia. You can follow her journey on Instagram. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read Brianna’s powerful backstory of losing her husband:

‘I awoke with a voicemail from the doctor. ‘How did I miss this?’ I raced to the hospital. I got teary eyed, and said to him, ‘I love you, you are going to be ok.’

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