We spend so much money, so much time, and so much energy around the ritual of getting married. You get engaged, you plan for a year. You get ring and gifts and parties, lots of parties. There are so much energy and thought surrounding it and the rituals. There is the big wedding and you spend thousands of dollars. And when you get divorced, you show up for court and you look at each other, and the judge says “ok bye” then you go home? There is nothing, it is so disappointing…
So, the idea of creating some kind of goodbye ritual for closure, even if it is just yourself is really important.
You and your ex-partner can decide if you want to do this in person, write each other a letter, or do some parts together, some parts alone. Here are some tips that will be helpful in navigating the next chapter in your life.
CREATE A VISION OF THE FUTURE
Spend some time envisioning your new relationship together. What that is going to look like? Are you going to be co-parents? Are you going to be friends? What do you want to have happen? What will it actually will look like? What will you call?
Decide this together. Be specific. Try your best to think about what will work the best for both of you.
Example of specifics questions for co-parenting:
Would you have vacations together? Would you have holidays together? Would he come over Christmas morning and she have Christmas afternoon?
INSIGHT AND HONOR THE RELATIONSHIP
The goal is to able to sit deeper into the grief, and honor what the marriage brought to each of you. What you learned, what you valued. You need to honor the relationship, what it gave you, what it help you see. Before you let it go it is important to sit with it, reflect on it and to honor it. Here are some questions to answer:
Write or share the answers to these questions:
- What is it I learned from my partner? What did they bring me? What was positive about this marriage? What did I learn from being married to this person for __ years?
- What did I get out of the emotional experience? How did I learn to love?
- This is how I have hurt you, this is my part. This is what I regret.
- This is what I am still unclear about.
- This is what I am still angry about.
If you are sharing with your ex-partner:
Speaker: to remember not to blame but express your perceptions/thoughts and feelings.
Listener: Put your thoughts and defenses aside. You are not required to agree or validate here only listen. Both partners created the marriage, both have contributed good and bad.
VISION OF THE ENDING
Next what is your vision for closure. What will help both of you move towards your individual self in a healthy way. Some do an actual ceremony. Letting go of items of the marriage that is meaningful may help with the closing of the relationship. Pick an item that represents the marriage for you and pick an element of letting go. Focus on your feelings before you chose. Think carefully about this. If for instance you are feeling dread by letting an item go, pick Earth. Burying something that is too difficult to let go of at the moment serves as a statement of where you are in your journey.
ELEMENTS THAT REPRESENT HOW YOU ARE FEELING
- Burn something that represented their marriage out in a fire pit in their yard and said
- some words over it.
- Burn photo or copy of marriage certificate
- You threw rocks into the ocean and said something lovely.
- Wash away grief in a pool together
- Bury an object the represents the marriage in the ground
- Scream outside at the top of your lungs
- Tearing up paper and letting it fall to the ground
Remember that this is a process and grieving the loss of a relationship takes time but rituals can help with the processing of the ending of the committed relationship. It is ok to reach out to a therapist or a divorce coach.