What to Do With Wedding Rings After Death: 12 Meaningful Ideas

Published April 21, 2021
Woman wearing her wedding ring

When you say "til death to us part" on your wedding day, it doesn't feel like that's a hurdle you'll ever have to cross, but if the time comes that your marriage gets put to this unimaginable test, even the smallest of physical reminders can simultaneously spark the happiest and saddest feelings inside. The inseparable bond sealed by the exchanging of each other's wedding rings probably makes the rings feel heavier after your spouse has passed, making you question what to do with wedding rings after their death. Take a look at twelve of the many ways you can use your wedding rings to honor your lost loved one.

You Can Choose to Continue Wearing It

For some people, keeping mementos of their lost loved ones can help them feel connected to them through their healing process, and that might be the most therapeutic option for you. Of course, you aren't limited to continue wearing your wedding ring the same way as before, you can transform them into new pieces of jewelry or redesign them to incorporate your spouse's band as well. Consider these ideas for how to wear wedding rings after the death of a spouse.

1. Wear the Ring on the Right Hand

Some traditions believe that widows/widowers should shift their wedding rings from their left hand to their right hand. This is a particularly good option for people who're interested in marrying again in the future and need their left hand's ring finger free but aren't ready to retire their past wedding ring just yet.

Weeping old woman wipes her eyes

2. Redesign the Jewelry in a Commemorative Way

If you're feeling uncomfortable by the reminders the ring specifically gives you, you can actually redesign your ring and have features added to it or taken away from it to give yourself a fresh piece that honors your spouse. For example, you can replace or add a gemstone that reminds you of them to the ring or you can have parts of their rings incorporated into yours - bringing the two of you together, forever.

3. Convert the Rings Into a New Type of Jewelry

Another way to continue wearing wedding rings after someone's death without having to keep the ring itself intact is to have the rings melted down and created into a new piece of jewelry entirely. Stones can be taken from the rings, the settings melted, and a pendant for a necklace or a pin can be created in its stead.

Create Commemorative Art Using the Wedding Rings

If wearing the wedding ring brings you too much sadness, there're other ways you can incorporate them into your daily life that doesn't involve you wearing them. Depending on your crafting skills, you can create different types of commemorative art that uses the rings to memorialize the love between you and your spouse.

4. Plant It With a Memory Tree

Some modern trends show families memorializing their lost loved ones by planting a tree and watching it grow in their place, and you can apply the same tradition to your own life. Find a tree that you feel confident in caring for, and place the wedding bands at the roots of the sapling before you plant it. Planting the rings at the base of the sapling can give you a tangible reminder of your love, since every inch the tree grows has been watered by the spirit of your connection.

Hand close to a wedding ring on an old tree bark

5. Make a Shadow Box Out of Your Spouse's Things

Shadow boxes are perfect for displaying 3D items, and you can design your own shadow box to remember you of you and your spouses' relationship. In the shadow box, surround your rings with reminders of your partner, such as their favorite work pen, that pair of sunglasses they always had in their car, and so on. However, if you're uncomfortable with having your spouses' things put on display, you can always retire them to a special bereavement box.

6. Display the Rings in a Cloche

Cloche decorations are perfect for people who have a sense of drama, have a childhood nostalgia for Disney's Beauty and the Beast, or have a penchant for the spooky side of life. These domed display cases evoke a sense of antiquated reverence, like the way you can't take your eyes off of the rose in the cloche in the aforementioned Disney film. Your cloche can be as simply decorated as you like - a picture of the two of you and your rings stacked on top of one another will suffice.

Big diamond ring in the silver dome

7. Keep Them Involved in Holidays

Widows and widowers have taken to leaving out place settings for their spouse at the holiday dinners that come the first year after their passing, and a beautiful way to make your spouse be really included in the festivities is to use their wedding rings as a napkin holder for their honorary place setting. It's a subtle and touching way to keep them involved in your family's important holiday traditions.

8. Set the Rings Into Their Headstone

This idea requires a bit of planning that might be difficult for you in the immediate aftermath of your spouses' passing; but, if you have the time and the desire to plan your funerals while the two of you are still alive, this is a unique option to consider. Tombstones used to be significantly more ornate than they are now -- cost being a major barrier for most people -- and carving out a spot to hold either of your rings is a small way to personalize the otherwise impersonal gray slabs.

GgGold wedding band and fresh red rose bloom lay atop a marble grave marker

Traditional Options for Using Your Wedding Rings

The most standard ways for handling the wedding rings of a spouse once they've passed is to do one of two things - have them buried with their rings or turn them into a family heirloom.

9. Bury Them With Your Spouse

A quick way to deal with the wedding rings, especially if you're really struggling with the constant reminders of your spouse no longer being in your home, is to have your spouse buried with their ring. Yet, you can go a step farther and have your spouse buried with both your ring and their ring, in a bittersweet acknowledgement of your vows.

10. Make Your Ring Into a Family Heirloom

One of the most meaningful ways to continue using your ring, but not having to wear it, is to keep it stored away as a family heirloom for someone else to have in the future. If you don't have any children, you can designate it to be for another close family member or friend that you believe would cherish it as much as you do.

Diamond Ring In Box

Non-Traditional Options for Using Your Wedding Rings

If you and your partner walked off the beaten path during your time together, you'll probably be most interested in less traditional ways of dealing with your wedding ring in the wake of your spouse's passing. Here are two unusual options you could take.

11. Sell It and Donate the Profits

No matter who your partner was, there certainly was a cause, organization, or event they felt passionate about. You can honor their memory by selling your wedding rings and donating the money you make off of them to the place that best represents their interests.

12. Add It to a New Pet's Collar

If you've found that getting yourself a new pet has helped alleviate some of your loneliness, then you have a unique opportunity to honor the pet's symbolic importance in your life. Adding your wedding rings to your pet's collar in some way can be a touching reminder that you and your partner's love can live on in all sorts of things.

What to Do With Wedding Rings After Death

The grieving process looks different for every person, so it's important to remember that the same goes for how you decide to deal with your wedding ring after the loss of your spouse. Whether you choose to go down a conventional or unconventional route, the sentiment of those rings, and your love, remains the same.

What to Do With Wedding Rings After Death: 12 Meaningful Ideas