Widow wedding ring

On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter

by Columnist Tom Blake

September 23, 2022

Widow wedding ring dilemma

Dee has been a Champ for several years. She used to attend the Senior Singles Meet and Greet gatherings at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli, which I owned for 25 years. The last time I saw Dee was a year ago in August at a book signing held at the deli. At that time, she told me, “Things are going well, a lot has changed, all positive. I got married two years ago to Ron.” 

On July 31 this year, Dee emailed me an update, “I wonder if you remember my email from last year at some point where I talked about Ron’s and my relationship and how we had gotten married after he was in a terrible accident that killed his brother and caused so much damage to Ron’s body, caused brain trauma and hurt his spirit. 

“Well, Ron passed away two days ago, on Friday, after spending a week in the ICU at Saddleback Memorial. He had this stubborn cough that would not let up. Turned out he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer that had metastasized to his lungs.

“Now I am a widow from my ‘fifth and final’ husband. When he asked me to marry him in 2017, he said he wanted to be my ‘fifth and final.’ This deep grief is new territory for me. We were supposed to ‘grow old together, the best was yet to be.’” 

“I am so sad. Thank you for being there.”

Dee’s news was a shock to me. Besides Dee, I’ve had three other women friends become widows in the last 12 months. I admire their strength in dealing with their respective losses. Each is dealing with her situation in her own unique way.  

On September 13, Dee updated me, “I have been a widow for eight weeks and wonder ‘What’s going to happen in the future?’ For the first few weeks, I jealously guarded my wedding ring! I did not want to remove it even for a moment. 

“As the weeks went by, I began to think about the ring. My husband Ron and I had two sets of matching rings plus I have a gold band as well. I started changing my rings to go with my mood or my outfit for the day. I still want to wear it. I will never forget him or cast off our marriage. 

“But I am starting to think about the symbolization the ring stands for. It says, ‘I’m a married woman, but I realize I’m not anymore.’ I have no intention of dating. I recognize I have many months of contemplation and reflection ahead of me, and I just want some companionable friends and people to spend time with, nothing romantic.  

“What do you think our Champs would say about wearing a wedding ring after one’s spouse has passed away? How does one decide when and if to remove the symbol of marriage? I was going to start by changing the placement, going from my ring finger on the left to the ring finger on the right…start there and see how it feels. To me, this sounds reasonable, but I almost feel disloyal. Wedding ring guilt.

“As far as the pictures go, his old room is now back to being an office and most of the pictures of him and of us are in there. I moved all but my favorite one from my room two weeks after he died because seeing his smiling face was wrenching. 

“I like to see his picture before I turn the lights out. His 11” x 14” portrait picture that was taken after his accident-repair dental work is on the dining table, and I see it often, and I love it!

“When he was in the accident many of his front teeth were damaged, so he got them all fixed up and gained an even more amazing smile. The dentist sent him to a photographer for a portrait for their office (before and after). The photographer was kind enough to send me a larger portrait since I only had a 5×7. 

“Ron’s life changed immensely once we met, dated, married. His daughter tells me his life unfolded five-fold and he was SO happy. Many people that knew him for years like co-workers and friends told me the same thing. Our relationship opened many new doors for him and I was happy and thrilled to bring these things like college and travel into his life. 

“This created some challenges for us, we had different value systems that we had to learn to integrate, but we got there, and we became best friends who looked out for each other, loved up on each other, and made our tiny home a cozy little nest and had so many adventures together.

“When/if the time comes, I will put some of the pictures away if necessary. But for now, I think you can see that I’m very confused. What might Champs say?”

Widow guilt. Dating a deceased friend’s husband

On Life and Love after 50 e-Newsletter – November 16, 2018

by Columnist Tom Blake

Should this widow feel guilty about dating a deceased friend’s husband?

Champ Donna, a widow since 2011, emailed, “My friend passed away from cancer two years ago. Her husband is the man I am talking to now. We live in two different Eastern states, not too far from each other. We are both in our early 60’s, and at the end of this year, we are retiring.

I didn’t know him at all. I have seen him three times in the past 30 years for about 10 minutes just to say hi.

My friend said that she and he never got along over 25 years of marriage. She told me some things about him, but I never commented or added anything that was negative because I did not know him.

I would always try to fix things with my feedback about whatever was going​ on, as to how she felt about him. My friend–rest her soul–was very opinionated, controlling and bossy with her husband and the children, which I witnessed one of the three times I saw him. ​It got to a point when my friend and I talked over the phone, we never talked about him.

We talked three times​ a year, but I was the one that would call, until​ that one day she called me to tell me she had cancer. By this time, she and he had been separated​ for 10 years.​ Now she is gone…their​ children are grown and on their own, and are not close to him, because of her.

He and I have been talking over the phone for two years. We have become​ good friends and have a lot in common​. I would like to see him, but I have guilt​ that he was my friend’s​ husband, hanging​ over my head.

Now, we are just friends. ​But what I am feeling​ guilty​ ​about is…if we do start​ seeing each, how would his grown children feel about us being​ together?

His marriage and family life were​ calmly dysfunctional​…if you can picture that. We are both reluctant​, but I know we will see each other soon. We are not getting any younger.

We are both​ healthy​​ and able to still have fun before we die​, so why not? BUT THE WIDOW GUILT?”

My response to Donna: “Ditch the guilt. Your friend had been separated for 10 years. They had a miserable marriage. Why worry about his children? You say he is not close to them.

If you enjoy each other, go for it, now! Live in the present.

Have you been together in person at all? Do that. You might find you want to be together or you may find you don’t.

You weren’t that good of a friend of hers-talking to each other only three times a year.

One concern: if the family is dysfunctional, do you want to get involved in that?

Wait no longer.”