Christine Gallagher, owner of a Los Angeles event company called The Divorce Party Planner, explains, "Divorce is part of life, and yet it's the only major event for which we have no ritual. A celebration communicates that divorce is OK—life-affirming, even." With this in mind, Gallagher hosts divorce parties with plenty of humor thrown in.
Celebrations include signature alcoholic drinks like the So Long and The Sucker, as well as fire-starting sessions involving various bits of marital paraphernalia. "Burning is big," says Gallagher, who's seen everything from wedding dresses to a husband's trophy deer head ignited into flames while campy songs like "Hit the Road, Jack" and "I Will Survive" play in the background.
Charlotte Eulette, owner of New Jersey-run Celebrants USA, loves to brainstorm one-on-one with her divorcing clients to create rituals with the right personal tone and meaning. For example, one of Eulette's male clients celebrated his divorce by gluing back together a broken glass—a reversal of the well-known Jewish tradition of smashing a glass at a wedding's grand finale. For her own divorce ceremony, Eulette symbolically reclaimed her maiden name by slipping a ring from her mother onto her wedding ring finger. Plus, she purposefully wore a shiny cocktail dress to symbolize her goal to "shine on."
In Britain, Estelle Williams runs Rhythm of Life, which specializes in offering alternative ceremonies, such as Divorce Letting Go Parties. As Williams explains, "The ceremony may allow you to say sorry or to say thank you for the good times before it went wrong. It may involve a symbolic action like the cutting of a cord." Debenhams, a department store in the UK, hopes to bring a little extra ease and levity into divorcing couples' lives by offering a divorce gift registry—so even if you are left by your spouse, at least you won't be left without, say, a toaster. The Great Northern Firework Company also offers a special divorce fireworks display that sends a colorful, powerful signal that you're doing quite okay and looking forward to an exciting future ahead!
In New York, Lyss Stern hosts regular Life After Divorce events designed to empower women when "I do" turns into "I don't ever want to see you again." She offers the help of seven experts—a matchmaker, a nutritionist, a psychic, a makeup artist, a life coach, a yoga instructor and a divorce lawyer.
Manhattan's Barbara Biziou, author of The Joy of Ritual, also offers a variety of healing rituals for the newly divorced. Biziou begins by helping clients write divorce vows to be read and signed in front of friends and family. The goal? To acknowledge the positives of the marriage; to let go of the negativity; to embrace forgiveness for both oneself and one's ex; to commit to being true to one's core needs; to heal the pain of one's past; and to bravely pursue a healthful, thriving relationship once again.
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