After a mostly-amicable split via mediation, Doreen Secondo’s 18-year marriage was officially over and she and her two teenage daughters were faced with a new family dynamic. She felt devastated, so when her cousin and best friend approached her about a “divorce party,” she wasn’t immediately sold. What would she be celebrating?
But they persisted and convinced her there was a lot to celebrate after all: strength, life, new beginnings. Her friends and family had seen her through the highs and lows of it all and she had grown so much stronger — devastation was only one part of her story.
Although Secondo was worried about what others might think, she decided to let her friends throw the party. “I decided it [might] be a great idea for people to see how strong divorce made me,” Secondo explained. “[This experience] has made me so much more positive and I realized that life is meant to be celebrated.”
So four days after her divorce was finalized, 30 of her friends and family members (she decided to not to tell her daughters or ex about it) gathered at her best friend’s house where they spent the doing karaoke. “I showed up and, wow! They made a photo booth with funny sayings about divorce, a t-shirt with a crown that said ‘bye’ on it, and a picture board of me and everyone that attended the party,” said Secondo. “I even got gifts… mugs, blankets, journals, wine glasses with sayings on them and a bracelet that said keep f-ing going.”
They celebrated Secondo’s perseverance and survival rather than the end of a marriage. She was ready to move forward with a positive attitude, and her friends gathered to send her into the future with support, love, and good food.
Secondo was also celebrating the women who lifted her up in her darkest moments. “I took a few moments and expressed how special each and every person there was to me and I thanked them for their support.” Although ambivalent at first, Secondo now believes there is nothing wrong with feeling empowered from something that brings such pain. “To celebrate life is a good thing.”
For those who may want to celebrate their own new beginnings, here are some things to keep in mind…
Surround Yourself with Loved Ones
“Divorce Parties may be perceived as something extravagant, tacky or unnecessary, but they can help with the healing process of one of the most traumatic events somebody will ever have to go through,” says Dori Shwirtz, a divorce mediator and coach. “To feel completely alone and isolated is very normal. It’s comforting to have a gathering of your biggest supporters to confirm that you have plenty of people that are in your corner and that you will be okay.”
Set New Goals
It is time to start over and a divorce party is a great way to kick off and talk about your new life. “Press the reset button and start talking about your goals to your loved ones,” Shwirtz says. “Once you air those new aspirations it makes it more real.” Dream big and live with intention — perhaps you want to start each day with a gratitude list or go back to school and pursue that degree you always wanted.
Respect Your Ex
Tensions are typically high between ex spouses when a divorce is fresh, but it is important to take the higher road and respect your ex. Be mindful of who you invite and don’t put it on social media. “Don’t bash your ex at the party,” advises Shwirtz. “It’s not about them, it’s about you and your new life.”
Use the celebration as a time to let loose with your friends and let go of anything that has the power to hold you back. “Divorce is associated with shame — somehow you failed,” says Shwirtz. “The divorce party is an opportunity to negate that shame and turn your new chapter into a positive. It’s telling the world, ‘hey things maybe didn’t turn out the way I expected, but I’m proud of my life and I’m going to be ok.’” Incorporate this into your party with a letting go activity: write a letter to your old life and burn it in a bon-fire, blow bubbles, find something to symbolize your intent to let go.