A ritual for undoing a marriage: Tearing Asunder

it is done.

Last Saturday I donned my wedding dress for the last time. I tore off the sleeves, shredded the skirt, and walked into the ocean while scattering the petals of pink roses.


Photos by D’Arcy Benincosa


Jana is a university administrator and teaches History. Her soloblog is http://janaremy.com

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16 Responses

  1. kmillecam says:

    Jana, I love this. It’s so appropriate and honest. I hope it was as meaningful as you wanted it to be. I look forward to seeing more pictures if you are willing to share them.

  2. kristine N says:

    Very cathartic, even in a couple of pictures.

  3. HokieKate says:

    You’re a powerful woman.

  4. Hydrangea says:

    Very descriptive pictures. It is interesting how rituals of all sorts can bring closure and new beginnings. Thanks for sharing! Will we hear more about this experience?

  5. Stella says:

    I think it’s one of the most ceremonial and cathartic experiences that I’ve ever heard of. These are the moments in life that can heal and shape. Well done! I raise my glass to you tonight! What power and courage and strength!!


  6. Kris says:

    Jana’s contribution here caught my attention and I stayed up until wee hours reading all I could find written by her. Was at it again this morning. When I found the parts about the Quaker meetings, I felt I was witnessing not only the dissolving of a marriage, but the dissolving of lives. Jana and John were a beautiful couple and Jana was an especially beautiful bride in one of the most beautiful wedding dresses I have ever seen. The potential was astounding and the tatters are heart-rending. John and Jana have chosen their paths. I just hope the children will be okay. Not just for now, but for eternity. They are Jana’s children, yes, but they are my brother and my sister as well.

  7. Jana says:

    I appreciate your curiosity and concern for my well-being and that of my children. While I don’t know how best to put this., I will try…we are happy and we are making the very best choices possible given the circumstances of our lives. Our lives are complicated, indeed. As all all of our lives.

    My children are wise and compassionate people. They make sound choices and treat others with respect. I cannot imagine a Heavenly Father who would not be overjoyed with who they are. Rather, I picture a Father (and a Mother) who love them wholeheartedly and support the paths of their lives.

    At some level I agree that the narrative arc of my life for the past few years could look as though it is an ‘unraveling’ of potential. I could see why others would pity me for all that has happened in my marriage and in my relationship with the church. All I can say to that is that the story is not yet over. I am satisfied with who I am right now. And I appreciate those people around me who can accept that I’m changing and evolving and learning, and who can love me whether or not I conform to their expectations of who I should be.

    • Two of Three says:

      Jana, you have a strength I envy.

    • Chandelle says:


      For a while, I pitied you. I worried about you, I felt resentful on your behalf, I wondered how you’d survive. It was hard for me to understand how anyone could come out the other side of such an experience intact, much less flourishing. But watching you these months I’ve seen these layers peel away from you revealing an absolute warrior underneath. If you’ve unraveled it’s only so your threads could be woven together into something more resilient and beautiful than could have existed before. I feel so incredibly lucky to know you as this evolving person, and there’s no doubt in my mind that your children are blessed as well. Much love to you, my friend.

  8. Kris says:

    A lovely reply. Thank you.

  9. Stella says:

    I also think trying to put all the pieces together from online posts tends to leave things a little two dimensional if you’ve never actually hugged the 3D version of Jana. Being in her presence not only strengthens me, but motivates me to be a happier and better person. You are, quite literally, one of my heroes, J!

  10. EmilyCC says:

    So powerful, Jana!

    What an amazing ritual…how did you think of it?

    • Jana says:

      The idea came from some of the “trash the wedding dress” photoshoots that I’d seen other women do–which aren’t about divorce, but about doing something playful in a dress that can only be worn for one occasion.

      My dress already had mildew damage so it wasn’t something I could dye or wear again. So wearing it into the ocean seemed an appropriate symbolic and artistic gesture. As the idea grew on me, it just felt more “right.”

  11. Kelly Ann says:

    Jana, I love this. However, I also think it is really awesome that you still fit your wedding dress. I know a lot of people who would envy that fact! And I definitely think you are amazing and admirable yourself!!!

  12. Deborah says:

    I just saw the whole photoshoot on your flickr feed. You shine, my friend. I wish the path could have been easier — it’s awful to see those you love in pain — but I also see how you have taken the shreds and woven yourself some amazing skin.

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