When Does A Widow Take Off Her Wedding Band and How to Provide Support In the Grieving Process With Compassion

My blog, www.grandmother-blog.com, has evolved over almost a dozen years, from just being about grandmothering, to grandparenting, to“parenting” adults, to sharing life tips as a Boomer, to preserving family recipes and memories (including our Holocaust family history), creating memories and rituals, gifts and toys for children of all ages, gifts for all holidays and events,  travel and family and multigenerational travel tips, and whatever popped into the news of interest, into this grandmother’s brain, life . . .and heart.

My husband of more than four decades died on March 1, 2023.  After he died, a dear friend, knowing that I enjoy writing, suggested that I write about compassion in the grieving process. Beginning the fifth month after his death, the widow’s fog I learned about lifting, I am now beginning to understand.

Spoiler Alert if you have not watched Episode Nine of Season One of “And Just Like That,” the Sex and the City follow up series on HBO Max.  It is not that the series is new.  The first episode was December 9, 2021. Thinking back to then, I had much on my mind and on my plate, being the caregiver for my husband who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer December 28, 2017.  I did not even know about the series then.  We were dealing with a roller coaster, and this time in 2021was a low point on the roller coaster.

Since the second season is being advertised, without knowing anything about the series, I began watching the first season.  Big’s death looms (excuse the pun) BIG.  Big is Carrie’s husband. It is, in significant part,about Carrie being a new widow.  In Episode Nine of Season One, she is agonizing about whether or not to take off her wedding ring. 

The first thing I did after the episode was go to Google search: when does a widow take off her wedding ring?  The answers were helpful to me and made me realize sharing the information might help others and those who love them, with the grieving process, with compassion.

From attorneys in South Africa, advice is:

“There is no right or wrong decision in this matter.” Continue wearing the ring.  Many widows/widowers continue to wear their wedding ring until they feel ready to take it off. (Emphasis in original) Some will continue to wear it forever.”

There are “15 Things to Do with Your Wedding Ring After the Death of A Spouse,” on www.joincake.com, which also, under the heading, “Condolences & What to Say,” has extensive postings for different circumstances for  “What to Say When Someone Loses a Husband.”  I know that it was helpful for me to hear from family, friends, and acquaintances from near and far, and that I still do.  It is never too late to reach out, or share memories.  This resource helps you with how and what to say.

I learned from the Cake Blog that it is a common practice for widows to move wedding rings to the right hand, on the way to possibly removing it in the future, when they are ready to let go. . . .”of the past (even though they don’t have to do that.)”

In response to “what does a widow call her deceased husband?” Cake Blog suggested:

“ Instead of saying, “my late husband,’ or “my late wife,’ you can simply say “my husband,” “my wife,” or “my partner.” Many people who experience the death of a spouse choose to continue referring to the departed as their husband or wife.  After all, death doesn’t put an end to your relationship with your partner.”

In a response to “Is a widow considered married or single?” was information from the I.R.S.

“The surviving spouse is eligible to file as Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately (Emphasis in original).”  There are five filing statuses, put in order of what the I.R.S. considers most beneficial or least beneficial.  Married Filing Jointly is said to be the most advantageous.  Qualifying Widow(er) is second.  Last of the five is “Married Filing Separately.”

As a widow, according to the I.R.S. statement, I am considered married for the entire year since my spouse died during the year.  Of course, check with a tax accountant or financial planner for each individual circumstance.

I hope this journey through Google helps those of us who are navigating through the grieving process and those who care about us and love us.

There is only one more episode of Season One of  “And Just Like That,” on HBO Max. 

Where I live, I have support from several other widows, whose husbands have died from thirteen years ago to a few months before me. I am about to meet them. . . . wearing my wedding band.  I will now look to see if they are wearing theirs, with more knowledge, and with more compassion for their grieving.

About to start Season Two, I wonder how many seasons there will be of  “And Just Like That.” 

Looking toward a future that includes joy for all of us widows,


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