Breathing-Room

It’s a life stage that is all too easily medicalized and forgotten, and it doesn’t need to be that way.

Menopause…does the word arouse any positive feelings in you? When you hear it or say it, what comes to mind?

Like far too many changes impacting our physical selves, menopause is highly medicalized. We think about symptoms, hormones, and medications, but we aren’t encouraged to experience it as a passage of life, deserving of its own ceremonies. But, why would we throw a party for a baby’s birth but not hold an event for our transition out of fertility?

Rituals and events that mark major milestones help us to embrace change. Menopause can be incredibly challenging for many women. Why not make room for celebration—or mourning—with an intentional rite of passage?

1. Host a Gathering

Just as with any other rite of passage, like a wedding or a birth, we choose people to surround us and help us acknowledge what is going on in our lives. When it comes to the end of fertility, and all of the changes your body and identity are undergoing, who are the people that matter most? It could be your immediate family, your extended family, a group of friends, a gathering of other women experiencing menopause…whatever makes sense to you.

2. Create a Ritual

What activities at this gathering could help you to formally mark this transition you are experiencing? In some traditions, such as Judaism, there are special prayers that can be recited for occasions like this. But just as there are wholly secular weddings, you can create a wholly secular menopause ritual. Perhaps you could take an object that you link with fertility and release it into a body of water. Imagine a gesture that would help you to express what you are feeling about the changes you’re going through and then simply do it.

3. Share Experiences

Perhaps at this celebration you can create space to share meaningful stories. If you like, you can be the only one who speaks. Or perhaps you could encourage participants to share their own stories of menopause. You set the agenda. Remember, this is an opportunity to break the silence and create meaning with others.