Till death do us part

We married  in 1960. The service was conducted  by the chaplain of the S.U. chapel and as I recall the ending of the marriage vows finished with the phrase which is the subject of this post. This is then followed by the exchange of rings and the service is almost complete.  I do have a Lutheran hymnal published in 1978 and it ends with  a promise …I promise to be faithful to you until death parts us. Then the ring ceremony.  So, the wording is less archaic than the vow we took, as well as I can remember it, but very similar.  The current Lutheran service actually gives two suggested vow endings.  The first ends with the phrase….until death parts us.  So quite similar to the endings I just quoted.  The second ending closes with …as long as we both shall live.

I recently attended a wedding at my church and the couple, both in latter middle age at least, I would guess, chose the second ending.  Then the ring exchange. So, the ending they chose has more emphasis on life, but implying at least that it will be of a finite length. I go into this because the wedding service was one of those events that can cause unexpected  grief and it did so for me.

It is now getting on to two years since Marge died and I have still been wearing my wedding ring from so long ago.  I had thought occasionally that I should remove my wedding ring at some time, in the future.  The effect of the service I attended was that continuing to wear my ring was a form of denial since Marge and I do not both live, she has died and I have survived her.  We by death, as we so blithely vowed when we were oh, so young, are now parted.  Then we were going to live forever.  We did for a long time, but not forever.  The time had come to recognize this by removing my ring.

I did this and it was much more gut-wrenching and painful than I had imagined.  My whole left hand felt oddly different.  I think the ring has been on my hand all those years with the exception  of a few times when I had to remove it for some form of medical scanning.  The ring had become a part of me, but no longer an appropriate appendage. After struggling with this sensation and what to do about it, I came to a response that satisfies me.

Way back in 1980 when we first moved here, I had my 44th birthday in November of that year and we decided to celebrate it by playing tourist, staying at a hotel for Friday and Saturday night, seeing some shows, shopping dining, etc.  We had, as a family, some unexpected situations to deal with that year and had done so.  The girls were old enough to take care of themselves and we gave them our hotel phone number, and of course we could call home easily.

It was a very pleasant relief to step outside the day-to-day routine, even for a few days, and play tourist.  Marge surprised me with the gift of a gold ring which I really liked.  On my right ring finger, I wear a gold nugget ring that Marge had made as a gift for me which includes a gold $10 coin that had been my maternal grandfather’s.  This gift was also  a surprise maybe 25 years or so ago.  I decided to replace the wedding ring with the birthday ring. The ring fingers on both hands are now balanced with these thoughtful gifts from Marge.  Now my left had feels whole again and I have acknowledged to myself that I am no longer married but widowed.

This transition has been more difficult for me that I at first thought it would be.  However, I think it was another step in slowly coming to terms with my residual grief.  Quite likely there may be more,  though I am looking forward to the future, doing some new things, making a trip or two, etc.



About R. F.

I am a retired Professional Engineer who spent my working life in the electric utility industry. I am now a volunteer instructor at the University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).
This entry was posted in Syracuse University, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Till death do us part

  1. Shirley Beckman says:

    I had Charles’ ring and mine made into a pin which I wore to family events for some years until I stopped wearing jewelry altogether. It has meaning to the children as well as to me. I am not sure which daughter I will leave it to. e. My family continues to grow. Five of the six children are married. There are nine grandchildren and five great grandchildren. Two more greats are expected before the end of the year.
    Clare and Jeanne’s son Dale was here for a family event for my 85th birthday in July. With Jeanne’s death I am the only one left of the three sons and their wives.
    I read your postings with interest, noting how each of deals with grief differently. It comes again and again over the years.
    Shirley Beckman

    • Bob says:

      Thanks Shirley, so good to hear from you again. Time moves along for both of us. I will be 78 in November. It has now been 60 years since I began as a freshman at Syracuse. I still remember, though not too clearly now, your parents hospitality in inviting me over one time that semester. You are right about about how grief comes and goes. It does for me and I think also for anyone who has lost one they really loved. I have been seeing a woman a few years younger than I, but she has been divorced almost 45 years, and though has had boyfriends over the years, does not really understand how grief works. I have one grand-daughter who was 16 a few days ago. I had one cousin on my father’s side but he died at 90 earlier in the year, so I am alone as well.

  2. Allan T. says:

    Hi Robert, as I was reading what you wrote my first thought was you need to go out a buy another type ring….but it seems you were lucky enough to have one( or two) available for this use. I have another ring, but it does not fit that finger. I do realize that anything is possible, but based on our life style, and eating healthy and such, I have it on “record” that I will go before Janice. If not, I will take the suggestion I was going to leave you, and use it for myself.
    Allan & Janice

    • Bob says:

      Hi Allan, thanks for the comment. My action has helped me a lot to get over the distress I was having. Love to you and Janice and I hope she is dealing OK with the death of her sister.

  3. Kathilyn Bigler says:

    Your writing continues to inspire me with your beautiful flow and honesty. Please keep writing- you are helping many!!! God bless you!!! Kathilyn Bigler and my boys!!

  4. ingridmg2014 says:

    Dearest Dad,
    While it saddens me, of course, to learn of your struggles with grief surrounding the issue of whether or not to continue wearing a wedding ring I am glad that you have found a resolution that works for you. I don’t remember how long I wore my own wedding rings; I know that it was at least a year after that terrible day and I suspect it was longer. It is a tough decision/transition to make–more so that one might think. After all, a wedding ring isn’t just a piece of jewelry. As you say, it becomes a part of you. Thank you for sharing this part of your journey and for being such a terrific father.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.