I created a Divorce Transition Ceremony for Donna to unbind the emotional ties of her marriage to her former husband. Though the actual divorce had been finalized a year previously, for Donna (as with most people) a bit of space was needed to be emotionally ready to close this important chapter of her life and turn the page on another.
Divorce ceremonies are not very common. And yet I have seen the incredible power they hold for acceptance and healing. This is why I persevere. The ceremony was recorded by CBC Radio and aired on its popular program Tapestry.
As I opened Donna’s ceremony, I hoped my words would help explain the underlying meaning of the gathering to her small group of invited guests:
“Like all experiences of significant transition, divorce has the power to transform the lives of those who go through it. Though there is no denying that it’s painful and takes much inner work. This ceremony is part of that process. And this is why such a ceremony is often not appropriate until well after the marriage is legally over. It takes time to view the relationship with forgiveness and conciliation. Donna has done this inner work – admirably I might add – and now it is time to bring what has been inward, outward, that others may witness it.
“In this ceremony, Donna will symbolically cross an emotional threshold. She will take her leave from one time of her life and embrace a new chapter of her life. In doing so she will acknowledge the blessings of her marriage and very importantly the opportunities that lie ahead as the result of its conclusion.”
I’m proud of this ceremony… I put my heart and soul into its creation. Donna is an extremely brave soul and it was incredibly important to me that I honour her commitment to being brutally honest with herself. It takes a lot of GUTS to admit one’s role in events when things go sadly awry.
The ceremony turned out beautifully. It flowed naturally through an emotional arc, from sorrow to acknowledgment to acceptance and finally to hope. And throughout, it rang with Donna’s own words collected from my interviews with her and the reflective process I designed to unlock her story.
In addition to the story telling component of this ceremony, here are some of the ritual elements I included:
- Donna was adorned with flower garlands made by a friend.
- She wore a fabulous new dress symbolic of new beginnings.
- We clipped the four corners of her Marriage Certificate, symbolically rendering it null and void.
- Donna read Pledges of Release to her ex-husband.
- Friends read poems and sang.
This was an emotionally charged ceremony that reached beyond Donna’s own healing. Friends were surprised to feel that they too were beginning to let go of their own sorrow and anger. As for Donna, she went home to her new partner with a fresh feeling in her heart.
After the ceremony Donna says she felt for the first time, “I think I can get married again!”
HEAR THE CEREMONY FOR YOURSELF!
You can hear CBC reporter Pamela Post’s interviews with Donna and myself on a mini-doc that aired this October on CBC Tapestry. The program includes portions of the ceremony! It’s a moving piece so as Donna says, “Get your hankies ready!”
CLICK HERE to listen