Many couples are now hosting “a closing ceremony” when they divorce.
An article in The New York Times highlighted this trend, noting the different and unique ways that couples are celebrating their splits. Barbara Biziou, a wedding officiant in Manhattan stated: “When people get married, they have a wedding ceremony, they’re making vows and promising to be with each other. When that dissolves, you need another ceremony to release you from it.”
This “closing ceremony” is deeply personal for the couple and is often used to move past the anger and hurt feelings which a divorce can create.
Risa Marlen, a marriage and family therapist in Teaneck, New Jersey, noted: “A marriage begins with ritual and ceremony, and it should end that way. The human psyche needs that closure. It warrants it. It deserves it.”
Some couples opt for a more traditional approach and invite family and friends to reflect on good times during the marriage. Others choose an unconventional style, such as one woman who held her own closing ceremony seven years after her divorce, without her former spouse, and resumed her maiden name in front of a large group of friends.
The ceremony can emphasize the memories the couple shared, or it can be more symbolic and focus on letting go of the past. Religious officials like rabbis and ministers even officiate over some of these ceremonies, at the couple’s invitation.
A divorce ceremony can be therapeutic for the couple, but the ceremony is just as emotional and helpful for the couple’s children. A ceremony can help a child accept the new changes in the family structure and cope with this significant transition. Kevin Bain, who presided over one such the event, observed: “It was like a small wedding, but it was a divorce. They were not upset or bitter, but they wanted to each feel that when they went their own way to feel free and released. It ended with them taking vows to always remain close friends and that the child would be their priority for the rest of their lives.”
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