By Elaine Voci, Phd. Certified Life-cycle Celebrant®, Life Coach
A divorce, or a break-up from a long term relationship, has a lot in common with other life losses that can happen to us as human beings. All losses bring grief, and grief needs tending in order to be transformed, integrated and healed. How do you heal a broken heart? As a life coach and a certified Life-Cycle Celebrant® I have three actions for you to consider taking that can be truly life-saving, including a leave-taking ceremony to reclaim the past and affirm a new life of peace and happiness. The first two actions are essential steps that create boundaries, and show love and compassion for yourself while the third is a rededication to your resilience: Choose carefully who you let sit in the front row of your life; now is not the time to let anyone into your close circle of support who is not on your side. You need tender loving care as you live through this painful transition. People who are trying to push an agenda that doesn’t fit with your values, and anyone who doesn’t have your best interests at heart, are not allowed to be close to you right now. That includes parents, and other family members who lean toward being judgmental, unkind, or hurtful. Reject their philosophy and draw closer to those whose love is unselfish.
Make frequent contact with your support network and directly ask for help: call, email,text, and reach out to friends and family who love you. Give them the chance to take care of you – they want to help, but they may not know how best to do that, so give them specific requests, such as “Could you go with me next week to Parents’ Night? I dread going there alone now that I am a single parent.” Or, “Would you come over for lunch on Saturday and just hang out with me and talk for a while? I need to laugh and your humor is what I need most.”
3-Go through a symbolic ritual to affirm your strength, hope and resilience in which you can make an important dedication statement to yourself. You will need a slice of birthday cake, and this can even be a fruit that you like to eat if you are counting calories, that will hold a candle that can be lit. You will need matches or other candle lighter. You will need a favorite song that speaks to you of your strength and determination to create a new and happy life. Here is the dedication you will speak out loud to yourself (and to anyone you choose to share it with who is willing to support you and be a witness):
“I dedicate these days of sorrow and challenges to that part of myself that has inched forward when harsh winds blew and I had but one little candle on my birthday cake to hold up my wishes. (Light the candle) I dedicate this process of leaving that I am going through to that part of myself being tested who listens to the music of my life more than to the reproach of my intellectual mind. I believe I am meant to dance, to enjoy happiness, and to feel loved and cared for. (Play music; dance to the music as the spirit moves you.)
I trust the process that these challenges are designed to lead me to my best future, shining and bright on the horizon. I honor my passion to emerge so that I can live the successful and joy-filled life I am destined to lead.
My love for life has no limits to its endurance; no end to its trust; no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything.
I enter the mystery of life’s instinct and I immerse myself in the metamorphosis of my new and inspired life. And so it is.” (Blow out the candle)
Rituals of passage empower us because they are ageless, timeless, global and transformative. Rituals exist not just for the big, formal and public transitions in life – they are also a powerful tool for private, and personal events. Every ritual has an intended audience, even if it’s just ourselves. We are inherently “actors on the stage of life” and rituals are performances filled with symbolism in which the stories we tell are part of a larger narrative about the meaning and purpose of our lives.
While the ritual I shared is simple, there are also more elaborate divorce or uncoupling rituals led by celebrants that can be turned into major parties where family and friends are invited to witness our vows to ourselves, a new ring on our finger that recognizes our singular status, and a new name that we have taken to celebrate our final separation from a former life and identity as a married person.