What Widows Wear

Wedding Ring NecklaceMy last landlord in Pittsburgh was an Italian woman. My Dad met her and he took notice of her black attire and gold cross. Afterwards he shared that she reminded him of his neighborhood in Brooklyn, which had a large Italian population. He noted “They wore black for a long time after someone died.”

At my husband Mike’s funeral, I wore a black velveteen hat, sleeveless Eileen Fisher black velveteen dress, and an Eileen Fisher dark green jacket with sparkles. Mike enjoyed clothes shopping with me and had been present for these purchases. He loved to bring me clothes to try on and I recall now that he had suggested the green jacket. I wore my wedding ring and a bracelet he gave me with the words “Laugh, Live, Love.”

I deliberated on my dress for the coming year. My wedding ring stayed on my left ring finger for a full year; it came off at the internment ceremony we held for his ashes. For clothing–I decided against wearing black or even a black arm band as some people do. Instead, I decided to remind myself of Mike by the jewelry I wore. For the coming year, I would only wear earrings that he bought me or that I bought during our time together. Each day I had to think about which earrings to wear; it was my private signal to myself to remember the man I loved. I didn’t feel the need to further advertise my new marital state, especially to people I didn’t know.

We each make choices in how we express grief and signify the passing of a loved one. They continue to reside in our hearts and a physical reminder provides comfort. The choices can be dictated by culture, like my landlady in Pittsburgh, or by personal expressions. These choices bring us comfort, and in their own way, honor our loved ones who no longer live with us.

Have a Productive Day,

Anne Meixner

Dear Reader, please share your comments and stories that are sparked by this piece. For instance, what have you worn after a loved one passed away? See Contribute for how you can share a story at The Engineers’ Daughter.

Additional Reading

As noted in this wikipedia article while black is a common color to wear while in mourning there are other colors.  White has often been worn.

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