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What is a Divorce Ceremony

Once a significant amount of emotional processing and healing has happened, it’s time to create a divorce ceremony. Relationship endings usually do not happen quickly. There is often an unraveling process where one or both partners grow distant, mistrust grows, contempt develops while in others there may be a “withering”. There is no normal way relationships reach the point where they are broken beyond repair.

A divorce ceremony is an ideal way to untie the knot that has become a tangled web. We’re emotionally entangled in a relationship and disentanglement takes time and requires conscious and deliberate thinking to continue distancing yourself from your partner emotionally. As we go about making a fresh start, we need to leave as much baggage behind us as possible.

Relationship-ending is an event. There are some necessary steps along the healing path of transformation once it’s clear an ending is imminent. Many of us deal with some degree of denial, anger, grief, confusion, anxiety, fear. Some experience loneliness due to lost friends and spousal connections and many of us lose our identity as a spouse. Each emotion needs to be addressed.

The financial base of our lives is also compromised. We try to navigate a legal ending when civility is difficult to maintain. If we’re parents, we lose our active daily parenting partner and the ability to have a 24/7 relationship with our children. Work performance is often compromised as a result of the ending process. Sometimes a new job is required, adding to the stress.

Many people find they can’t sleep. Often physical symptoms (back pain, ulcers, high blood pressure, colds, and allergies) manifest. Depression, anxiety, increased use of alcohol or other substances, over-eating and various ways of “numbing” frequently go along with a divorce. Some try to bypass the pain by jumping into a new relationship and most often that relationship will not be healthy and will end painfully, thereby compounding pain and extending the healing process.

Children are also deeply affected by a breakup. There are often significant changes in school performance, some try drugs or risky behavior, all as a reaction to the emotional upheaval.  I often tell clients that if they are unable or unwilling to go through the healing process for themselves, then do it for the kids. So often children are emotionally abandoned, neglected, and betrayed as parents deal with their pain. When a parent deals with pain in a constructive way, sooner rather than never, they are able to step into a parenting role in a strong and responsible way. When at least one parent goes through the healing process, the children have at least one stable parent to attach to, and that will often prevent the children from compensating in other ways.

No matter what the particular process of unraveling was, or what the ending was like, everyone has to “let go” in order to “move on”. In the words of Joseph Campbell, “We have to let go of the life we had planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” Or as Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Creating a Divorce Ceremony

An “undoing” is not possible, but releasing your partner and yourself from the vows made during a marriage ceremony is possible and enormously helpful in untangling.

There can be a wide array of elements to a ceremony and it needs to be tailored to your specific ending.

Here are some examples to consider including in your ceremony:

  • Re-purposing your wedding dress or attire
  • Using the wedding ring(s) in a new way
  • Writing new vows as co-parents
  • Speaking specific statements releasing your partner from your marital vows
  • Naming specific ways you are severing the relationship
  • Taking a new name
  • Name what you will keep or preserve because it will be helpful in moving forward
  • Identify symbols of the past and that which symbolizes your future
  • Choosing a meaningful location for the ceremony
  • Having family and friends attend and participate
  • Choosing food and beverages that would help symbolize moving forward

A Certified Celebrant can design and officiate a wedding ceremony and when an ending comes can also “untie” you. A divorce ceremony is designed to help disentangle. Every divorce ceremony is uniquely designed for each person and their situation.

Several years ago, Nick was interviewed for an article in the New York Times about bringing closure to a relationship. Read Here.

We invite you to listen to the CF&I Celebrant Wisdom Teleconference with special guest and Certified Celebrant, Nick Meimawho talks with us about creating a divorce or uncoupling ceremony. 

Listen to Nick’s recorded interview. 

Contact Certified Celebrant Nick Meima at 720-524-3664 or visit After Divorce Support for details on his 10-week Rebuilding seminar, to schedule a coaching session, or to create your unique divorce ceremony today.

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