We are familiar with the traits of a wedding. A couple in love. A bridal party. Most lucky enough to each have a family to support them. Friends to rally in their celebration. The people, the fanfare, the love and support as people gathered around to celebrate the nuptials.
How about the last baby shower you had or attended? The excitement, the chatter, the brewing life imagined in dreams. A baby shower with gifts, and advice, and well wishes. Still, the fanfare, the friends and family set to welcome and support your new journey.
And for those experiencing a death…a funeral, a wake, another ceremony rallying support for the family left behind. A place for family and friends to let known they still support the family in their new phase of life.
Now divorce? Where’s the ceremony? How do o we let the people experiencing this difficult time know they are supported? How do we let our family and friends know about the dissolution of our family structure? Send out a ‘save the date’ card for when the papers are finally signed and formalized by a judge?
In recent years the rise of the divorce party is one way some have decided to gather their tribe. The divorce party didn’t appeal to me with 2 babes in tow. But still, where was the ceremony to call my tribe together? How was my surrounding family and friends to let me know they were willing to support us through this event?
To date, society has generally has scorned or ignored the divorce process. It can almost be likened to a lesser version of social death. Usually friends and family find out through ‘the grapevine’ or casual conversation. Some avoid or ignore the fact of the marriage’s demise altogether never acknowledging it even when you see them again. Never speaking with the person or the couple about it! In all our years on this earth, we have not found a way to properly end a marriage socially.
On my bookshelf lives “Amy Vanderbilt’s New Complete Book of Etiquette” copyright 1967. Chapter 57 covers divorce with the MANY suggestions. I need to preface this before we dig into some of the chapters…I am NOT suggesting to follow ANY particular etiquette rules. What I am suggesting is in our conversation these may shine some light on the beginnings of our current situation.
Curiosity #1: “It is only the shallow and silly who ever return from the divorce courts in a carnival frame of mind, desirous of public celebration.”
Okay, so I’m not of the mindset that you need to hire clowns and a carnival. But hey! Maybe some want to be silly. Who’s to judge how one person processes the divorcee’s process? As long as you’re not hurting anyone else who’s to say you can’t have a party?
Curiosity #2: “…it is like a painful operation, the necessity for which cannot occasion any joy.”
Ummm…ya it hurts a little. You lose weight amounting to a full sized human, but really?! I would liken it more closely to the grieving process or having your dreams squashed. That of a “painful operation”?…well at least after an operation they give you decent pain medication.
Curiousity #3: “If divorce becomes inevitable, the fact that it is impending should never be publicly announced.”
DING DING DING. I think we have found the problem. If traditional etiquette is the ruling reason divorce has become a bottled up process, you can see why it may be driving people crazy.
So there we have it. If we want to continue to follow the advice of an etiquette book from the 60’s then scroll on, carry on. Personally, divorce needs to be pulled from the shadows and given light. It’s shouldn’t be an event cast into the closet and jarred up for life. Divorce is no longer what happens to ‘the other people’ or what ends one’s social life. It is an event that happens to family’s, friend’s, co-workers. To the people, we love and admire. It is a difficult time that calls for extra measures. Not shunning and dark corners.
Let’s start a new conversation about divorce. One that includes how we plan to support the individual, couple and family through it! If that means having a party, so be it. If that means a new kind ceremony including choosing the friends you wish to stand beside you as you journey through divorce, or a new kind of save the date card…well let’s give it a try!