by Michele Davidson
Divorce holds the potential to transform the lives of those who go through it. It is a painful journey, one that takes courage and a personal commitment to healing.
So what gives with the lack of ritual around it?
The “divorce ceremony” is a trend gathering steam that supports divorced individuals to embrace their future in a meaningful way. A thoughtful divorce ceremony mindfully unbinds the emotional ties of a relationship and can be a hugely transformative part of the healing process.
An aim may be to help the individual acknowledge the good parts of the marriage and not reject it outright. In virtually every marriage, even the most dysfunctional, there were lessons learned and small blessings (sometimes in disguise!).
One must be well and truly ready for such a ritual, often two years after the marriage is legally over, because it takes time to awaken to conciliation. Ex-spouses have differing emotional paces and needs, and so divorce ceremonies are typically for the individual.
As with all deeply resonate ceremonies, the preparation done to develop the rituals used are the foundation of the experience.
Through mindful reflection, the individual comes to inwardly acknowledge the gifts of the marriage, and the opportunities that lie ahead as the result of its conclusion. During the ceremony, the honoree symbolically manifests this acceptance.
Such a ritual can take the form of clipping the edges of a marriage certificate to symbolically render it null and then making pledges for one’s future, reworking a ring, or gifting.
When the union has brought children into the world, one may express intention to interact respectfully with one’s former spouse by offering prayers of forgiveness and release.
Typically a small but close group of family and friends are invited to attend the intimate ceremony. Guests may find the ceremony provides a safe place to process whatever feelings they themselves hold around this divorce.
I love what Marianne Williamson says about divorce in her lovely book Illuminata: Thoughts, Prayer, Rites of Passage: “I bless you and release you. Please forgive me; I forgive you. Go in peace. You will remain in my heart.”
About the author: Michele Davidson of Modern Celebrant was one of the first professional celebrants in Canada. Her calling is “honoring the big moments of life through transformational ceremonies.” She believes that authentically crafted ceremonies have the power to awaken us to the deeper emotions behind the big moments of life and to what she calls the “Patch of Blue” inside each one of us. Online at moderncelebrant.ca. Twitter: @moderncelebrant.