Did you see the recent TV programme on Channel 4 called Grayson Perry:Rites of Passage? He created a divorce ceremony for a couple which had two amicable divorcees. However, it is my view that this is the exception rather than the norm. Many divorcing couples would like an amicable divorce but it doesn’t always work out that way.
I see a divorce ceremony as drawing a line in the sand, marking the occasion of a major life changing event. Most major life changing events like birth, marriage, death etc. have a public ceremony to mark the change. With divorce there is no such thing. A letter drops through your letterbox from your solicitor or the Court and that is it; officially over. You are no longer Mrs, or are you? you are no longer married but are you single or divorced? Why do certain institutes and their forms have to have a box for divorced? Do you keep your married name for a woman or do you revert to your maiden name? Certainly life changing questions.
The divorce ceremony is a time to publicly acknowledge and maybe accept what has happened and the changes that are coming. It can help tremendously in the healing process as it completes the relationship that has just ended. It can be a time of publicly thanking those friends and family that supported you throughout the divorce. It can be a celebration of your freedom, your new chapter in life. This can feel daunting yet exciting, it can feel hopeful and it can be liberating. Something to share and to ask your friends and family for their support as you move forward, much as witnesses are asked at a wedding or a naming ceremony or after a bereavement or other major loss.
A divorce ceremony should also be considered where children are concerned. It is obviously a very difficult and unsettling time for them. Much will depend on their ages and the circumstances around the divorce and they too need to feel hope and security moving forward. It can be a good opportunity to confirm publicly to them that Mum and Dad will never stop loving them and will still be their Mum and Dad although the living arrangements will be different. It is also a time to confirm that although Mum and Dad have separated, the children will not be separated from each other.
The ceremony can be made to reflect the mood of the divorce with music, readings and symbolism, like cutting a copy, please, of the marriage certificate, or a removal of rings. Every ceremony will be uniquely personal and meaningful so a celebrant should be engaged to put it together with and for you. Many people have a wild party and dance on the table singing ‘I will survive’, but that’s not quite the same is it?
For details of my divorce ceremonies, visit www.celebrant-services.co.uk