Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Death of a Marriage

"A friend of mine who has been divorced said, "I don't think you ever really get over it." We wondered why that was; we wondered why the world reacts so differently when someone physically dies. When someone dies, friends and family bring casseroles; they travel from afar to attend funeral services. They send cards and notes of encouragement and make phone calls. They join you at the cemetery and mourn. Their very presence brings healing.

So why is it that when a marriage dies, people do nothing?

When my marriage died, I was left on a ledge with little to no support. Friends and family didn't know what to say, so they often said nothing. No one visited; no one sent cards.

But when someone dies, there is comfort for those who feel the loss. There is a tangible, physical reminder of the loss. There is a body. There is a tombstone. There are ashes, rituals, prayers, community. It's obvious that I will never get these things; it's obvious I will never have the same comfort that widows receive.

But what about community? What about the group of people who sat at my wedding, the people who agreed to support my marriage? Where are they now? I still see their faces, smiling and laughing. I see them with glasses of champagne. I see them handing me wrapped gifts - pots and pans, pillows, other things that are now shoved to the back of cupboards and closets. Things that I would gladly trade for a hug or a phone call.

Today, these wedding guests are only a memory. Today, they are like passengers on the Titanic, celebrating while a disaster that they know nothing about is on its way. I wish my wedding guests were around to support my marriage, but communities have become fragmented. The people who attended my wedding live in dozens of cities around the country, and most of them never knew there were problems in my marriage until they heard about my divorce.

Most of them probably know now, but what should they say? What should they do? I don't know. They don't know."

Grace & Peace

(excerpted from "With or Without You," by Cameron Conant)