Mom died almost 20 years before Dad and he wore his wedding band until he died. He knew he wasn’t married to her anymore but I think it was his way of being close to her. For the surviving spouse it can also be a way to keep others at bay until he/she feels ready to date again.
I do not think there is anything wrong with wearing the ring after a spouse dies. The surviving spouse will take it of if and when he or she is ready. Actually, I wouldn’t even say anything about it to the person.
Why do you feel the need to say anything at all? Even if she isn’t “technically” married anymore, wearing a wedding ring brings a great measure of comfort for the surviving spouse. I know many people who do it, and as an outsider to their marriage, I would never dream of telling them to remove their ring and throwing the obvious in their face.
I do not think the church has a stance on this as such. In my 19 years as a widow I have treated my ring differently at different times, probably reflecting some of where I was on my grief-journey. At the beginning I still wore because although he was dead, and technically I was no longer married, my husband was still part of my life. Later I moved it to my right hand because I still wanted the connection to my husband, but did not need to proclaim that I was married. About 8 years ago I had my engagement and wedding rings redesigned, using the diamond and adding my birthstone to make a ‘new’ ring that I once again wear on my left hand. To me this represents the new life I have had to make as a widow, but that it grew out of my life as a wife, and there is still very much a connection between my husband and me.
Also, please, even if you were to phrase it more tactfully, never, never say anything like this to a widow or widower:
before I said to her something like ‘take it off you aren’t technically married anymore’.
Believe me, we know that we are no longer married any more and that is a huge part of the hurt and grief we deal with on a daily basis. Not just the loss of our particular life partner, but seeing, especially those in our age group, sharing a meal in public, holding hands, exchanging a glance, etc can throw our loss up in our faces yet again.
(Edit: Evania and Nacho were faster-fingered than I.)
“…or because of the death, does that mean you technically are not married any more and you should take it off?” One has the option. If you want to wear it, you can. If you don’t, you don’t have to.
I think it can be a sweet gesture, to show the person loved not only “till death do us part” but even beyond that! To me, it can be a way of saying, “I STILL love you!” I don’t see how God, or anyone, could object to that.
There’s nothing written saying a person MUST take off a wedding band after a spouse dies, so it is fine.
Interesting question - - - I’m actually in this position as my wife just recently passed away and am wondering myself…so I am grateful for this thread.
First of all - I agree with Evania who wonders why you feel the need to say anything at all.
What business is it of yours whether I continue to wear my wedding ring or not? If you were to bring the subject up to me - I would be highly hurt and offended. To do so would be to attack my (dead) wife and our life together - and I would very likely not respond in charity to such an unnecessary and presumptuous attack.
As VivienneJ expressed so beautifully we are well aware of our status as widow(er)s and forgive me for being blunt but - We don’t need someone else poking our wounds. And that is what it would be if you were to broach this subject with your friend - you would be poking his/her wound.
Certainly you did not mean this thread the way it seems, somewhat cruel, I am certain that this was some kind of slip. But, as a response to this I would say that she wears the rings because she can not bear to take them off yet. I am certain she knows she is no longer married but perhaps in her heart she still is and always will be. Each of us deal with our struggles in our own way and we hope that our friends and family will support us until we get through the tough times. Just for your information, if I survive my husband of 41 years I will probably wear my rings until my death. It will make my kids happy as well as myself and that is all I care about.
There is no obligation, Catholic or cultural, to wear a wedding ring even while one is married, and certainly no obligation to remove the ring when one’s spouse has died.
Especially while grieving, it is perfectly appropriate for a widow or widower to continue wearing the ring. Following a period of grieving, if the man or woman wishes to resume dating, then they should remove the their ring. If the person is happy to remain single, then they may leave it on. Even if dating, removing the ring is only to avoid confusion, not a hard fast rule; it’s a person’s choice to continue wearing the ring or not.
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