I’m so sorry for your loss and for the shock and mixed feelings you’re experiencing now as a result of learning about your boyfriend’s cocaine use.
The ring he gave you is yours. It belongs to you. Your boyfriend bought it for you as a symbol of his love for you, and that love doesn’t disappear because he’s dead or because he was keeping a secret from you or because your feelings for him may have changed since he bought it. At one point the ring would have symbolized your marital union, but it doesn’t symbolize that because you never married. Because of that, the ring — and the intention behind your boyfriend’s purchasing it — can forever be a symbol of the love you two shared and you should do with it whatever best honors that love.
I understand if you don’t feel right keeping it, so you need to think about what would feel better for you. You mention giving the ring to his kids. That might confuse them or make them think you’re rejecting their dad in his death. I can’t imagine the kids would want to keep and wear the ring themselves. They’d probably sell it and split the profit. Would that feel good to you – better than your keeping the ring or selling it yourself? If you sold the ring, you could use the money to do something that might honor your boyfriend’s memory and/or the memory of your relationship. Just because you believe you would have returned the ring and broken up with him doesn’t mean you can’t honor and respect his memory. He was important to you. You loved him. That doesn’t go away even if your feelings have understandably changed in the weeks since his sudden death.
You are making a new life for yourself, probably quite different from the life you were only recently imagining you were about to begin. Maybe taking the stone of the ring and making a necklace from it or adding additional stones to create a new and different ring could be a meaningful way to symbolize your new beginning as you hopefully hold on to the good memories and take the positive parts of your relationship with you as you move forward. Maybe you could sell the ring as is and use the money to go on a vacation – a sort of “solo honeymoon.” Or you could donate the money to a cause that was important to your boyfriend or a cause that’s important to you.
You don’t have to decide anything right now. You could put the ring in a safe and wait until the shock and the hard edges of this early stage of grief soften a little before you decide what to do. The hard edges will soften, I promise. You may forever be angry that your boyfriend lied to you, but I hope in time you can forgive him and you can hold on to the positive memories that you shared. Not everything was a lie. The love was real, and he would want you to remember that and to forgive him for not being the man he probably very much wanted to be for you.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.