There are many ways to acknowledge the end of a marriage and the death of the promise it held. Recent trends, such as conscious uncoupling and divorce ceremonies, provide options to bring conscious closure to the end of a marriage. Many of us, though, don’t want a public ritual, especially those of us with kids. But more private opportunities to ritually let go can help divorced moms become ready to move on and open to the possibilities in store for a new life after divorce. The simple ritual below comes from “The Breadwinner Mom’s Guide to Making Peace with Divorce,” available in its entirety on my website.
You can perform this exercise alone or with one or more trusted friends. Perhaps you will want to gather several divorced women to participate with you for a shared, powerful experience.
What you’ll need:
- Candle, matches
- Blank sheets of paper, pencils or pens
- A quiet space & time
You will need to decide if you want to burn your papers or let them go in balloons. Depending on which you prefer, you will need either:
- a fireproof bowl suitable for burning papers or a fireplace OR
- CD or mp3 player & music (or instruments such as guitar or piano for live music if you or a friend can sing and play)
Allow 30 to 60 minutes to complete these activities, depending on the number of women. If you are gathering with friends, make sure everyone has turned off their cell phones so you can focus on the activities without interruption.
Take a seat at the table where you’ll do the first part of the ritual. Have your friends sit around the table as well. Place the candle in the middle of the table, and after everyone is seated, light the candle as a sign that you are beginning the ritual.
Set an intention for this ritual, even if you are alone. Speak your prayer/intention aloud. You may speak from your heart, or use the following prayer:
My intention for this time is to find the willingness to let go of the dream of a happy marriage and to accept my new life as a divorced mom, trusting that this is for my highest good.
If you are alone, play or sing or remember a favorite song from your wedding – perhaps the song you used for your first dance or a meaningful song from your wedding ceremony or from earlier, happy times. Listen to the music, and let yourself feel whatever emotions come: happy, sad, fond memories, indifference, anger…
If you are with friends, have each of them share their favorite wedding song, and if time allows, play each song or a part of it. Share your feelings aloud with one another (optional), going around the table and letting each one speak without comment or crosstalk.
Next, have everyone get a piece of blank paper and a pencil. Have each person write their strongest hopes and dreams for their married life on the paper. If participants are willing, have them share these hopes and dreams aloud, again without comment or crosstalk. If you are alone, read your hopes and dreams aloud to yourself (and the Universe).
Once you’ve finished reading your hopes and dreams, you’ll move to either burning your old hopes and dreams or releasing them with balloons.
If you have decided to burn your papers, place them in the fireplace or in the bowl, and set them on fire. As you watch, say a simple prayer or blessing such as:
My dreams of a happy marriage with [name] have burned to ashes like this paper.
Like the smoke rises from the flame, may I (we) rise to a new and fulfilling life.
If you have decided to release your dreams with balloons, have each person place their paper inside a balloon. Blow up the balloons and tie them, leaving the paper inside. Take the balloons outside and let them go. As they rise to the sky, say a simple prayer or blessing such as,
My dreams of a happy marriage with [name] have drifted away like these balloons.
Like the balloon rises to the sky, carried on the currents of winds unseen,
may I (we) rise to a new and fulfilling life.
After either action (burning or balloons), conclude by literally closing the door on the marriage. If you have gone outside to release the balloons, when you return inside, you can close the door behind you. If you are inside watching the papers burn, you can leave the room and go into a separate room, or you can leave the house and close the door behind you. Either way, as you close the door, say,
I have now closed the door on my old marriage. I am on the threshold of something new. Let it begin.