Most of the significant moments in our lives are marked with a formal occasion. For birthdays we have parties, for weddings or graduations we have ceremonies and for deaths we have funerals. But what about divorces?
It might not be a new concept but the ‘divorce ceremony’ certainly appears to be becoming more popular. Unlike a wedding ceremony, a divorce ceremony can be whatever the couple choose. Some prefer a quiet gathering of family and friends, others choose to include promises to one another (especially when children are involved) while others organise elaborate or joyous occasions.
Performance artist, Marina Abramovic and her ex partner chose to walk from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China before meeting in the middle, hugging, and parting ways. That might be a more strenuous ceremony than most would choose, but the purpose is generally the same: to respectfully part company and mark a point from which the couple can move on with their separate lives.
Japan in particular is seeing a rise in divorce ceremonies. There, the occasion is marked by the couple hitting the wedding ring with a hammer. That might not be the most subtle of metaphors, but in Japan, where divorce is still considered taboo, these public ceremonies are helping to make divorce more socially acceptable.
Back in the UK, small groups are forming to help divorced couples (or individuals) arrange their divorce ceremonies, while books explaining “how to have a civilised divorce ceremony” are coming to the market. The indications are that UK divorce ceremonies could potentially grow in popularity as they have in the US and Japan.
Obviously a divorce ceremony is a spiritual and emotional occasion rather than having any legal purpose, but for some at least, it appears to have been a successful method of achieving closure before moving on with their lives.