A divorce is typically an emotionally draining and difficult process that’s rife with negativity. But some people are using the dissolution of their marriage as an opportunity to celebrate—by throwing a divorce party.
“A divorce party is about celebrating the bravery it takes to end a relationship in a world where that’s so often stigmatized,” says Rebecca Feinglos, founder of the online community and blog Grieve Leave, and whose own divorce party went viral, tells TausiInsider. “Ending a marriage is a huge loss that we grieve, even if we were the person who initiated the separation. In the U.S. and around the world, divorce can be a drawn-out, painful legal process, leading to its own trauma. We can throw a divorce party to celebrate facing that grief and trauma head-on, and to celebrate the strength it takes to make it to the other side of the complicated process.”
Of course you don’t need to throw a divorce party to feel better about your difficult decision. But if you’re on the fence about whether or not you should actually celebrate such a grueling ordeal, Feinglos says you should consider it.
“Divorce parties are about feeling whole again after a profound loss—to remind you that you’re loved, and that you love your friends,” she explains. “When we don’t talk about or recognize our grief, it can overtake us. Divorce parties help us acknowledge the pain of ending a marriage, and at the same time, can provide healing through the simple acknowledgement of what you’ve been through. I’m so proud that so many people are talking about their divorces these days, and are finding moments to celebrate.”
If you decide to celebrate, Feinglos says your divorce party can be whatever you want it to be.
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“For my divorce party, I invited my closest girlfriends to Las Vegas for a weekend of fun together, which included time at the spa, great meals, and—the best part—seeing Adele in concert,” she says. “But a divorce party doesn’t need to be anything fancy—if you decide to celebrate, it should be about what makes you feel happy: You could take a night to relax with your friends over take-out at your house, toasting to your strength and courage. You could go on a hike with someone who supported you along your journey to divorce. You could even have a solo dance party in your car.”
How to throw a divorce party
Regardless of how you choose to celebrate, Feinglos says it’s important to keep in mind that divorce parties are about honoring yourself and/or friends “for persevering through the challenging process of ending a relationship, and coming together to find joy in life.” If you’re considering throwing yourself a divorce party, Feinglos outlines her tips on what you should consider before doing so.
Who to invite?
When planning a divorce party, Feinglos suggests thinking about how you want to celebrate and who you might want to celebrate with. “Maybe your party is actually some quiet time alone after a painful divorce process. Or, if you want to gather friends together, consider who has supported you through your grief and who you want to celebrate with,” she says. “A divorce party is all about you, so don’t feel pressured to invite anyone you don’t want to or who isn’t fully on board with commemorating this moment in your life.” Whether you want to keep this moment to yourself, or invite twenty friends, Feinglos says it’s about taking this opportunity to bring together the people who remind you that you are loved.
What to serve?
When it comes to the menu, Feinglos recommends thinking about the foods and drinks that you love the most. “What makes you the happiest? Incorporate any food or drinks that you associate with happy times and memories, as you start this next chapter of your life,” she says.
What about giving a toast?
“We had lots of toasts at my divorce party, whether over champagne at dinner, or coffee in the morning,” Feinglos shares. “My friends wanted to share their love for me, and I wanted to share how much I cared about them for their support. Don’t be afraid to speak up in these moments of celebration: Give yourself the recognition you deserve for your bravery and facing your grief, and take the opportunity to toast your friends for standing by your side.”
Is receiving gifts OK?
“Taking the time to celebrate is, in itself, such a gift,” Feinglos says. “For my divorce party, I treated my friends to different parts of the weekend, like a dinner, as a thank-you for how much they’ve been there for me throughout my divorce. And my friends surprised me with sweet gifts to congratulate me on my divorce, like notebooks and note cards printed with my maiden name.”
What not to do at your divorce party
If you do decide to have a divorce party, Feinglos says it’s key to remember that it should be about you and your experience—and not about getting revenge on your ex.
“Your party should be about coming together to lift each other up, not tear anyone down,” she says. “If you feel like you’re hosting the party for any other reason besides celebrating your strength, I recommend sitting with those emotions—that grief—first before doing anything. It’s important to get in touch with yourself and your feelings before doing anything that may not feel good further down the road.”
But the biggest thing she advises against when planning a divorce party is feeling shame. “As a society, we need to stop using the phrase, ‘failed marriage,’ and start celebrating the individuals who take control of their life and prioritize their own wellbeing,” she says. “My divorce party allowed me to reclaim the word ‘divorced’ and make it something I am proud of.”
The bottom line: Life can be so hard, but, as Feinglos points out, “We can still take time to celebrate what’s beautiful. Hosting a divorce party can help you see that beauty, when everything else feels so dark and painful.”