The figure of the celebrant and lay humanist celebrant is relatively new in Italy; however, in recent years, this professional figure is spreading and more and more couples and people rely on her to celebrate an important moment of transition in their lives. Among these, the divorce party is a fundamental moment.
These moments of transition that it is possible to celebrate are numerous and varied in nature: a baptism – or as one prefers to say – a welcoming ceremony for a new arrival in the family, a symbolic wedding or, where desired and possible, a union with full value legal, when the figure of the celebrant is entrusted with the delegation by the competent authorities; a civil union (real conquest of a society that wants to define itself and be welcoming and inclusive in all respects), a farewell ceremony (the so-called lay funeral) or an Ad Memoriam ceremony, a moment of commemoration of those who are no longer with us for a long time and that we wish to remember at a particular time or date after their departure.
And then birth and rebirth ceremonies of various kinds, such as all those related to the life cycle, development and growth of women, from birth (of a son or daughter and, at the same time, to the birth of a mother), to approaching adulthood with the arrival of menarche, to circles among women, moments of strong bonding between women and of profound sisterhood, often on the occasion of the summer solstice, moments that have become real fixed appointments of various groups of friends. Then passing through the renewal of the marriage vow, in order to consolidate after a few or many years the will to continue the journey of life together, hand in hand, as at the beginning of a love relationship or the beginning of a love affair with the consequent “engagement”, which, even if it may appear a little archaic, is actually a deeply felt moment by couples, who are increasingly looking for particular and symbolically significant places to exchange such promises of future union and love to be advised by the figure of the celebrant the most personalized and, sometimes, eccentric ways to implement their private rite.
And then it happens that love ends and… what do you do in a moment like that, which, without a doubt, even in the most rosy of hypotheses, is a moment of transition that brings with it feelings and emotions of abandonment, failure and sadness? Even in such a situation, when two people decide to break up and divorce, can we caress the thought of “celebrating”, or rather, of celebrating what happened?
If you ask a lay-humanist celebrant like myself, well, the answer is: “Yes, even in a moment of profound pain and a sense of bewilderment, it is possible, indeed, it is desirable, if not even redeeming, to take time, space and energy to reflect on what happened and think of a way to overcome this pain, in order to process it and be able to transform it into something “Beautiful”, which helps us to evolve in our life path.
As a lay-humanist celebrant I have helped many people in this delicate and painful phase of their existence. I state that, in my experience as a divorce celebrant, it happens that more women than men turn to me, because – and I say this based on my personal experience – it seems they are the ones who benefit from the separation and divorce from their spouse, not always and not so much on an economic level, but more on a spiritual and psychological level. The divorce party then to celebrate a new beginning, a new life.
In fact, what we often go to celebrate in such ceremonies is the renewed sense of freedom that women can now experience: the rediscovered (or conquered) decision-making power, the end of a psychological subjugation which often, still too often, acts in couple in a sneaky and devastating way, enclosing the woman, or in any case the economically and/or culturally weaker partner, in a role that often becomes a prison from which it becomes almost impossible to free oneself. So let’s welcome a divorce ceremony in which all the cards are put on the table (and one really does, using notes on which both parties write words, situations, lies suffered by the other party and which they want to get rid of), they place them in a blatant or hidden way (this depends on the sensitivity of the people involved) on a table, they ball them up, they throw them into a sort of small container inside which each and every one can proceed to light a small fire and then set fire to the balls contained therein. Watching the blaze that emanates from all the “balls” of paper (balls that symbolize quite other “nonsense”, to use a euphemism), and seeing the purifying flame that emanates from it has an indescribable cathartic and liberating power. In the end, only ash remains; harmless ash that one can choose to scatter in a particular place, be it a river that leads to the sea or a forest full of trees. Or you can decide, once and for all, to bury what remains in the earth, perhaps by placing a flower with an emblematic meaning on it.
Usually this ritual (and it is only one of the many that I have happened to celebrate with couples on the occasion of a divorce ceremony) works very well and the couples even manages to end the divorce party with a nice well-wishing toast, extended to relatives, friends and, sometimes, new partners.
Where this does not happen and feelings of anger and revenge following the divorce still prevail within the couple, I step aside, as celebrant I refrain from fomenting further hostility and limit myself to suggesting alternative paths of self-care, from yoga, to transcendental meditation to healthy walks in nature.
Even good psychological therapy can certainly help.
At that point, once the psychotherapy sessions are over, we will have another reason to celebrate…