One year ago today I wrote the following in response to this piece about Relationship Funerals I share it now with you.
A breakup ritual could be incredibly beautiful… and painful… and healing. It’s one way to face a separation head-on (and heart-on) and spend an intentional moment dedicated to that transition to a new beginning.
What I love about the concept of a relationship “funeral” is the respect and honor it shows to the grief we experience when something truly alive, generative, and unique must stop growing and is put away; it feels much like an unfinished piece of art tossed on the closet shelf. But does it need to?
In 2014 I went through an impactful breakup that was unlike any that I’d processed before. It wasn’t based in ill-will or bitterness, but it did end up very lonely for me and without “closure”. My love felt like a raw, cut edge of fabric that had no seam, no clean finish or defined shape. I felt messy inside.
My partner knew his path and left to follow it. When our roads diverged, I realized I didn’t know where I was on the entire map. Hell, my life didn’t have a map.
What made it the most difficult may have been silence–the Unknown created by the empty space he and our relationship left behind. But talking seemed too painful, and reminding myself of what wasn’t alive between us anymore felt wretched. For a little while I struggled to move forward because I didn’t know how to end.
So what would have helped my transition into the next part of my relational life? Perhaps something concrete. Perhaps a ritual. I’m honestly not sure. I bet my ex would have probably said yes if I asked for one… And now that I’m talking about it, I’m so glad for people like that in my life, even if/when they leave it. The people who would understand why that is important. The people who might say yes if I asked.
What if I (I can’t speak for anyone else) could redefine what it means for me to have a complete and successful relationship? What if a “successful relationship” means the relationship has completely run its course, served a greater purpose, and we are deeply grateful for it? What if we could cry together and not push away? What if we had the communal support that’s usually given to mourners? What if I opened myself to that support in the first place? Would recognizing the completion of our time together with ritual, care, and kindness help redirect our paths a bit sooner? Honor the past as well as set intentions for the future? Perhaps. This is something I’m taking forward with me on my path.
Not every relationship needs the same things or looks a certain way. Some need a clean break. But I am looking for more ways to love and be loved in this world, and I admire the idea of sharing a moment that intentionally comes out of true love and compassion for oneself and one’s former partner.