Like a funeral, but for my ex, who isn't dead.
January 22, 2016 11:46 PM   Subscribe

Months ago, I broke up with someone I was with for 7 years, under very sad no-one's-fault circumstances. I still love him and miss him like crazy. The sadness comes and goes. I think about him every day. I'd like to draw a line and move on and think it would help it I can decisively mark The End on that chapter of my life. I'm looking for ideas for how to make that mark. Some kind of ritual or ceremony.

I don't want to burn or otherwise obliterate our momentos. I've packed most things up and put them away. I've done all the electronic stuff; blocking and deleting, including asking him to block me on certain apps/sites. Because I kept unblocking and looking. Like an idiot. So we're not in any kind of contact anymore. I've tweaked my routines so I won't run into him at any of our old things and places. We only have two mutual friends and they will always remind me of him, he introduced us, but I won't see him through them since he hardly sees them.

But I still need a little something to really make it official and final in my head. We're not together anymore, we're not even going to try to stay friends, and because of circumstances, we're not going to be able to be friends 'one day'. It really is over and has to be for good.

I think it was Lance Armstrong's wife who released a bunch of balloons when their marriage ended and he shacked up with Sheryl Crow. I don't think balloons will do it for me but I do I want something similarly ritualistic. I want to say: goodbye, I loved you, it's for the best, now I'm going to move on.

I am a sensible middle-aged woman so nothing that involves girlfriends+vodka or swiping right. I'd like this to be a private thing I do by myself.

Have you/someone you know done this? What did you do?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (14 answers total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
A friend of mine described such a ceremony she performed alone in her house. The subject of her ceremony was imagined on a chair on one side of the table. She put candles and some scents and other things she liked around the room. Over the course of a couple of hours she 'conversed' with the person and told them why they had to leave her life. Towards the end she found a statement that wholly represented her feelings and her wish for them to be gone but not harmed in any way; to be gone with love. Then she repeated the statement again and again as she imagined the person leaving the room, backing out of the door, heading down the road, along the hwy, to the airport, getting on a plane and leaving her town. She said it was funny at the end because they were still seated on the dining room chair as she imagined them on the hwy and buckling up their aircraft seat belt. But it worked for her.
posted by Thella at 12:20 AM on January 23, 2016 [14 favorites]

I don't know about more traditional ceremonies, but what about climbing a mountain, or a range of mountains (or rather, hiking)? I have done this myself, as a sort of "special hike," but I also adore hiking, and some of my most peaceful personal epiphanies have occurred on hikes or on/near the mountaintop. Walking in silence in nature for that long is meditative and, for many people, rejuvenating.
posted by Urban Winter at 12:24 AM on January 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of kinds of releasing rituals, depending on how woo you want to go. In a similar circumstance, I feng shui'd my living room and felt better, even though I don't believe in feng shui at all.

Sky lanterns and balloons are popular for this but please don't do that; they are a danger to animals and wildlife.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:06 AM on January 23, 2016 [7 favorites]

With one ex I had a hard time letting go, I climbed a mountain, wrote my feelings and things I wanted to say to him on rocks, and tossed the rocks off the mountain one by one. I cried as I climbed up and felt peaceful as I climbed down.

(From a sensible middle-aged woman who enjoys both vodka and Tinder)
posted by metasarah at 6:24 AM on January 23, 2016 [15 favorites]

After the farewell ceremony, maybe consider changing some things in your bedroom and home, to reclaim the space as yours. Maybe new bedding that's really to your personal taste, and rearranging some furniture, painting a feature wall or two, couple cool new large plants, artwork, whatever. Especially if what you do suits your taste but you hadn't done it out of compromise: it's a visual reminder that your needs, and only your needs, are what matter right now.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 6:58 AM on January 23, 2016 [3 favorites]

This is a good ritual for releasing an old relationship and setting your intent to draw in a new love:

Cut and Clear ritual

You don't need to believe in woo for this to work, I think the willingness to do the ritual signals to your mind that you are indeed ready to let go of the old, and open to something new.

You also don't need the special oils and special candles, unless you want them. Symbolic candle colors are nice (black for the cutting part, pink for the love drawing part), or you could just use white. Use olive oil with a few drops of lemon juice for anointing the cutting candle and plain olive oil for the love drawing.

Also I personally would not leave a piece of litter in the middle of the road. Just dispose of it in a trash can well off your property (such as a park or gas station.) Garbage collection will take it away to parts unknown.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 7:40 AM on January 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Sage is the traditional thing to burn, I think. Have a google around 'sage smudging' and see if anything grabs you.
posted by corvine at 8:34 AM on January 23, 2016

When my last serious relationship broke down (horribly) one of the things that helped me get through it was running. For ages I had a real problem going to places that reminded me of him, especially the city he was living in when we got together. Then I saw a half marathon advertised in that city and entered. It's five weeks away now. It's not so much as a "goodbye" as an "I'm free, I'm better, I'm not that downtrodden mess that you left behind" but it sounds like you could do with a bit of that too.
posted by intensitymultiply at 8:40 AM on January 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

Burning things you wrote on a piece of paper is the classic way to do this. (Just don't do it indoors in your own house--it will set off the fire alarm.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:35 AM on January 23, 2016

You say you've packed mementos and letters, but maybe take it a step further. Box them all together, and totally tape/seal that box. And get it out of your home. Based on everything you wrote, you shouldn't need to ever see any of these items again. And seeing as you had a problem staying away from social media contact, having a box of temptation at hand is not a good thing. I would personally burn them, which is a cathartic and final ending.

If you can't bring yourself to do that, can you ask a trusted friend to take the box away, and dispose of it in some final way?

And as pseudostrabismus mentioned above, make some changes to your living space. Thoroughly clean your home. Move furniture around. Get rid of anything that strongly reminds you of this person. Bring new things in. Make your space belong solely to YOU.

I did all these things when i ended my marriage. It was hard. But i felt like i was cleaning up the wreckage from my divorce, and creating a new fresh life. Be kind to yourself. Build things into your daily life that are pleasurable to you-music was my mainstay. This is an excellent time to actively go searching for new whatever makes you happy!

And time is ultimately what will heal you. Keep yourself busy, and the day will come when it hits you-you haven't thought about that person in x amount of days/weeks...I promise you, this WILL happen!
posted by LaBellaStella at 12:50 PM on January 23, 2016 [1 favorite]

I bought myself a beautiful tangible thing that I can look at every day and think, this is my new life, this is something I chose that has absolutely no connection to him. I found that throwing away things or burning letters felt like a negative kind of closure. I didn't want to erase that part of my life; I wanted to start anew.
posted by desjardins at 1:51 PM on January 23, 2016 [4 favorites]

Oh, I guess one thing I did was sell my wedding ring in order to pay for the beautiful tangible thing. Other people have it made into a necklace or whatever but for reasons I did not want to do that, I just wanted it out of my sight.
posted by desjardins at 1:52 PM on January 23, 2016 [2 favorites]

Make a paper boat, write his name on it, and go to river or ocean and let the current take it away. Here is a line from an old ballad, "I put him in a tiny boat/and sent him out to sea/that he might sink or he might swim/but he'd never come back to me."
posted by mermayd at 2:10 PM on January 23, 2016 [5 favorites]

Getting helium balloons and writing things you want to let go of on them, and then actually releasing them is another good one.

Fires on beaches at night, also good. And then writing good, the bad, the ugly, the grief on slips of paper to feed the fire with, also good.

And yes, sage smudging is the usual herb recommended for cleansing negative energy.

The rituals will help, quite a lot I believe, but there are multiple layers to grief and healing and moving on; there will not be One Single Thing you can do to entirely heal, except put the time and effort in. Absolutely do the ritual, but don't be surprised or upset when the emotions come back. They will. But hey, you can always redo your rituals, too.
posted by Jacen at 8:47 AM on January 24, 2016

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