Divorce | Separation | End of Relationship Ceremonies


The Heart Moves On: Your Divorce Ceremony *

Virtually everyone will, at some time, experience either a formal divorce or  the end of a significant  'couple' relationship. While we marry with ceremony,  the finalisation of a modern divorce happens with no ceremony. For many people, merely receiving a Divorce Certificate through the mail does not sufficiently acknowledge their new status.  In Australia, the process of obtaining a divorce is quite lengthy, so one has a choice of holding a divorce ceremony when the divorce is finalised, or of pre-empting the formal divorce by acknowledging  the end of the relationship with a separation ceremony. Both can be a positive means of moving forward, of dealing with residual feelings that the end of the relationship, rather than a failure of a relationship, is a personal failure.

The end of a relationship is a difficult transition - to move on one needs to find the path that can lead to a new and better life. A Divorce Ceremony, Separation Ceremony or End of Relationship Ceremony recognises that the end of a relationship, regardless of who made the choice, is an opportunity for personal growth. The ceremony is specifically designed to intentionally transform the experience into a stepping stone. It assists in dis-identification as a spouse/partner, declares your intention to reweave your life into something new and spotlights your personal path forward by means of a formal ceremony in which you close the door on the old, and, with  support of family and friends, acknowledge and celebrate your new status. It is therefore as much a ceremony of release as it is an acknowledgement of separation. It helps cleanse past negativity, declares your independence, and promotes acceptance. It does so by marking a significant change: release from deep commitment to the former spouse. A Divorce Ceremony, Separation Ceremony or End of Relationship Ceremony can include elements of "uncommitment" but it is not, per se, the reverse of a Marriage or Commitment Ceremony.

Single-partner ceremonies can be healing, and these constitute over half the ceremonies held. However, the ideal ceremony is one where both parties are present. Not only is there great potential for positive closure in this latter form,  it can also be extremely helpful in calming fears and assuaging guilt of the children of the relationship as it can help them understand that while their parents have agreed not to live together, they are not being abandoned, that they are loved by both parents and that the breakdown of the relationship is not their fault. For women, the ceremony can include a ritual for the reclaiming of your birth name.

For more information, read my article The Heart Moves On: Using Ceremony to Mark the End of a Relationship
* As featured in:
  Happily Ever Parted: Surviving Separation and Divorce by Bronwyn Marquandt. Sydney: New Holland, 2006
 "Jennifer Cram is a highly sought after Brisbane-based celebrant who conducts touching end-of-relationship ceremonies. She says properly performed ceremonies have a deep, spiritual content, which steer the emotions away from self-recrimination to a celebration of growth and learning...."(pp 162-164)

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Relinquishment ceremonies

A relinquishment ceremony is a very personal ceremony for a relinquishing parent of a child given up for adoption. The ceremony acknowledges the loss.

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