Wedding Rings After a Spouse Dies

My mother, still wearing her wedding rings, overlooking my stepfather's casket at graveside.
This week, photographs of Celine Dion at her husband René Angélil's funeral show her removing their wedding rings from a "ceremonial pillow" atop his casket and then placing both of their wedding bands on her finger.

There are a variety of religious and ethnic customs surrounding funeral services and also with relation to what happens to the couple's wedding rings after death. 

Some of the traditions for the surviving spouse after the funeral/burial include:
  • Wearing your wedding ring on the ring finger of the opposite hand.
  • Wearing your wedding ring on the same hand (sometimes this will be for the remaining years of life, or until the time feels right to remove it, or until one has chosen to remarry.)
  • Wearing your wedding ring on a chain as a necklace pendant.
  • Discontinuing wearing any wedding rings.
When deciding what to do with a spouse's ring who has passed, this too can vary depending on each family and/or culture's traditions.
  • Some feel it's most proper for the spouse to be buried with his/her wedding ring that he/she always wore during life.
  • The ring may be kept and given later to a child or grandchild as a family heirloom.
  • The surviving spouse may decide to wear both rings (his/her own plus, the ring of the spouse who has passed); sometimes wearing both rings on the same finger.
Something to keep in mind is that if your spouse has chosen cremation, jewelry, like wedding rings, will melt down and become destroyed during the cremation process. Thus, you must decide if you wish for the ring to go with your spouse/partner when he/she is cremated.
Of course, most decisions are made by what is most comforting to each individual, and thus customs and traditions will vary from person to person. 

  • Have you any advice or comforting tips to offer a surviving spouse when it comes to wedding rings after the funeral? 
  • If a spouse/family member chose cremation, what did your family decide to do with his/her wedding ring(s)?