Why don’t we hold divorce ceremonies? In our culture, we have rituals to mark events from birth to death. It actually starts before birth with baby showers. Along the path of life, we have traditions to honor holidays, graduations, marriages, anniversaries, and funerals. Through happy and sad events alike, we humans are comforted by these customs. Yet, when it comes to divorce, we have nothing to mark the event.
I’d like to suggest that such ceremonies become a recognized part of the divorce process. After all, divorce is just another event on the road of life. And, as much as it represents the end of something, it also marks the beginning of a new chapter for all involved.
I think of divorce ceremonies as something smaller and more intimate than a wedding, but the protocol is similar. I imagine exes joining together, accompanied by their children and possibly their parents and other close friends and family. I envision the reading of poetry and maybe a statement of gratitude from the couple to the audience. Around the family, I see photographs to commemorate years of memories that were created through the marriage. And, of course, there are vows to be spoken.
As a couple, especially a couple with children, it’s important to let go with dignity and respect. Some possible divorce vows might include:
I forgive you.
I remember you.
I honor you as the co-creator of our children.
I promise to be your partner in parenting.
I honor our love, accept the loss and treasure this new beginning.
I hold goodwill in my heart for you and wish you happiness on your journey.
Following the ceremony, there should be a celebration to recognize this new beginning. Instead of tossing a bouquet and garter, the couple might opt instead to toss their rings. For a new twist, perhaps the children will cut the cake and feed it to their parents.
Such an event forces thought and offers perspective to an otherwise chaotic divorce process. Not only can it be therapeutic for exes, but it communicates volumes to their kids. Children who witness or take part in such a ceremony will not see their family ripped apart, but rather united as all members embark on a new chapter.
When I talk about divorce ceremonies, I’m often met with comments that begin with, “Yes, but…” It’s difficult to step outside our current paradigm of dirty divorce and imagine it as something beautifully bittersweet. It’s difficult, but not impossible.
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.” –John Lennon