What Would it Mean to Have a Divorce Ceremony?

Photo by Genevieve Munoz

by Genevieve Munoz

Celebrant: I light this candle as a Beacon of Hope and Love and as a gentle reminder that a flame burns in each of us – connecting us to the other – reminding us that nothing is ever really lost or forgotten, it simple changes into something else.

(In the center of a Labyrinth rests a large bowl of sand on top of a small table. And in that bowl are three candles. A tall, thick one and two smaller ones. The tall one is lit.)

Life is about change.  From the moment we are born we start changing, growing into something more. We creep and crawl through the stages of infancy and childhood, we experience the emotional and physical roller coaster of puberty and adolescence, we learn to individuate and make important and informed decisions as we make our way into adulthood.  And there are markers all along this journey – baptisms, birthdays, confirmations, bar mitzvah’s, graduations and weddings – especially weddings.  We invite family and friends and probably people we don’t even know that well to be witness to one of the most important days of our lives.  We buy special clothes, arrange for special flowers, hire musicians and give symbols; our rings, as tokens of our abiding love.  Everyone is joyous – we celebrate! We share food and drink and dance the night away.

But what happens when a marriage comes to an end?  We do not have a ceremony for the uncoupling of people. There are no special clothes, invited guests, comforting food, words or music.  How can we end something that may have lasted for years with no ritual or ceremony?  You feel as though you’ve just been dropped off the ends of the earth – alone: too bad, so sad.

This is so painfully wrong.

What if you had a ceremony that included the most important people in your life, to gather around you, forming a circle of love and support?  To witness and honor you, through your life, your marriage, and now your divorce.
What if you had someone to physically wrap you up with a beautiful, warm, fuzzy shawl to comfort you, to acknowledge you and lift you up? What if the people gathered around you made sacred promises to help feed you with meals brought by, to keep you company when feeling down, to help nurture you – body and soul during this time?

What would it mean to you to make a conscious decision to show courtesy and respect to your former spouse because there are children involved? And to see this as an opportunity to set a good and healthy example of how two mature people can behave well in the midst of pain and turmoil – the eventual result being grateful for all that you’ve learned through this relationship. To accept and let go. To rise from the ashes into the next phase of your journey in life as whole, beautiful, and strong.

Now what would it mean to you to walk this Labyrinth as you recall your journey together? To meet in the center, and respectfully give thanks and appreciation for the good parts. And to then, wish each other well, and together, blow out the big, tall candle.

What would it mean to take a moment to silently (or out loud) make new vows and promises to yourself? How will you promise to love, honor and cherish yourself?

What would it mean for each of you to now light your own individual candles? To leave the Labyrinth separately as you now walk your own individual paths and cross the threshold into the light of a new season – filled with hope and grace. To mark this very important transition in your life, and to know that nothing is ever really lost or forgotten – it simply changes into something else.

I came across a great article in the New York Times about divorce ceremonies that I wanted to mention to you.

A wonderful quote from the article:

“When people get married, they have a wedding ceremony, they’re making vows and promising to be with each other,” said Barbara Biziou, a wedding officiant in Manhattan and the author of the book “Joy of Ritual.” “When that dissolves, you need another ceremony to release you from it.”

Take a look at the entire article on Divorce Ceremonies on the New York Times web site here.