We have rituals for birth, for coming of age, for entering long term relationships and for death. For divorce though, we have no mourning period, no ritual and none of the closure and support that comes with rituals for other life events. Does the couples day in court serves as the ritual for divorce? For most couples the answer appears to be no. They are often surprised to find little emotional closure after the judge declares them divorced. This is especially true if the couple have kids.
What would be a suitable ritual for divorce?
Families are brought together to mourn a death but divorce divides families. Some friends and relations find they need to side with one spouse or the other and so support is divided also. The common thread is in defining an end to a phase of life and a definition of self. A divorced person can no longer be part of the married couples club. It is as if they have caught a disease that married couples are afraid of catching.
How do we use a ritual to define an end to a phase of life and to redefine ourselves as single?
Some people take photos and cut them up or burn them. The same can be done with letters. The destructive process seems to allow them to vent their anger and frustration. The key may well be in recognizing and acknowledging the emotional turmoil going on inside us and giving that some voice. To do that we need some socially acceptable way to give those emotions a voice.
The Phoenix Ritual
As an experiment in using the Internet as a socially acceptable way to voice these emotions, we have set up a series of exercises in an attempt to vent and give closure to those going through the emotional chaos of divorce. The Phoenix Ritualis a series of 10 exercises designed to externalize those emotions and to try to channel energy into a new beginning. It involves typing out guarded thoughts and feelings in a safe way and finishes with a call to action to start afresh. No information is recorded and the final action plan can be printed as a reminder.
The future of divorce
For couples to divorce and successfully redefine themselves and move on to a new productive life, we must provide a gateway. These gateways in our society have been ritualistic and so we must search for an appropriate and socially acceptable way to vent, mourn and begin our lives anew. Perhaps the Phoenix Ritual can be a start in our high tech society.