I so clearly remember the moment Tim slipped my wedding ring onto my finger. A plain band of white gold, representing a fresh start and a new life. For the nine and a half years we were married it was just 'there', snugly sitting up against the channel set engagement ring we chose together. It represented us. A symbol of our love and commitment. And when he died, I buried him wearing his wedding ring, because I didn't think he would want to be parted from it.
I carried on wearing my wedding and engagement ring for the next year or two – I can't really remember how long, until the day I was stung by a bee on my hand. As a beekeeper, it's an everyday risk, and this was no worse a sting than any other, but the swelling was travelling towards my fingers. I took my rings off, just in case. I moved my engagement ring to my right hand for safe keeping. The wedding ring was smaller and wouldn't fit, so I tucked it into a drawer until the swelling went down. And that's how my rings stayed. Somehow, it felt right.
When I started dating my now wife, I took off my engagement ring and tucked that away, but I still wear silver rings that Tim gave me on my right hand. Again, it felt right.
While not all widows are married, not all people who wear a ring that shows their commitment have been through a traditional marriage ceremony, and not all people who marry wear a wedding ring, for those who do it's an important and potent piece of imagery. And that importance and potency makes decisions about whether or not to stay wearing a ring so much harder.
Some people take off their rings on the day of their partner's death. Some will wear them forever. Some wear them on a chain around their neck or put them on a different finger. Some give their rings away, or get them made into a new ring.
As with many things in grief, there's no right way or wrong way. There's just the way that feels right for you.
I was widowed at 50 when Tim, who I expected would be my happy-ever-after following a marriage break-up, died suddenly from heart failure linked to his type 2 diabetes. Though we'd known each other since our early 20s, we'd been married less than ten years.