After all the effort that people put into their wedding day, the day they formalise their divorce can often feel empty and awkward - on top of whatever emotions one might have about the end of a marriage.
That’s why the divorce party has become quite the trend over the past few years, finding its way into celebrity gossip, movies, and many, many Pinterest boards.
Friends of Nicole Niesner, of Saskatchewan, Canada, made headlines this week by showing up at her house on the day her divorce was finalised, toting their wedding dresses.
They all put on the gowns, even Nicole, to toast to the new chapter in her life.
“Even though I am OK with being divorced, it just lifted me up and reminded me that I am loved and that I have lots of great people in my life,” she told Inside Edition.
This sounds a lot more positive than the bloody-knife-wielding-bride cake that reality TV star Shanna Moakler had to commemorate her divorce from Travis Barker back in 2006. It’s also a little less bachelor/ette party than the ones Courtney Stodden and Robin Thicke threw for themselves in the wake of their public splits.
Though they sound like a lot of fun - and certainly cathartic – Nicole’s friends might have the right idea in terms of ways to start healthy new beginnings.
“It’s a good thing to celebrate your new sense of freedom, autonomy, and identity,” relationship expert Jane Greer tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
But the people getting a divorce should take into account others’ feelings here as well, she cautions.
“So many times, couples share the same people in common, from friends to family."
“Your friends and family don’t necessarily have that same sense of freedom. They [may] want to maintain contact with your partner. They might feel uncomfortable being there and betraying the other person.
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“You might feel betrayed if you invited them to celebrate with you and they decline the invitation. You have to really have a mindfulness around it in terms of who you’re inviting to the party, and what their choice to show up or not actually means.”
More important than making the guests feel comfortable, the new divorced person should probably make sure that he or she is in the right frame of mind for this too.
“If you’re feeling awkward … and you’re feeling a disconnect with your identity, then it’s too soon,” Greer says.
“If you’re going to make it a rite of passage, that’s when your new identity is still kind of fresh,” she says, “and you want that to be a marker to your friends.”
If some of that family you have in common includes children, Greer emphasises the need for positivity.
“I would be discreet about the nature of the party, what it’s actually about, and maybe just say, ‘I’m having a party with my friends to celebrate this new chapter going forward now that your dad [or mum] and I are officially divorced.”
Instead of throwing darts at the ex’s face, the divorced person could use this party as an opportunity to discuss future goals, like travel plans and career moves.
And for those who aren’t yet in the mood for a party, Greer suggests other options for marking this transition, either alone or with others.
“Take a trip,” she says. “Join a new club. Make it something to note the new beginning.”
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