Where are the Midlife Rites of Passage?

February 13, 2020

Where are the Midlife Rites of Passage?

May 29, 2023

Societies have historically celebrated the movement of an individual from one part of life to another by creating festivities or formalities that mark that rite of passage. This rite of passage could be birth, puberty, marriage, having children, or death.

Regardless of the event, the intent is to strip the person from their most recent role and prepare them for their new role and status.

Unfortunately, rites of passage are almost non-existent in midlife or the workplace. Yes, some companies celebrate employee anniversary dates, and, in the past, you might have earned a gold watch at 65, or some other reminder that your time has expired.

I have friends who curated an empty nester party when their kids left home (imagine Ferris Bueller’s parents throwing a shindig). One of our MEA alums closed down her business with a thank-you ritual to her employees and family in a bucolic cemetery. And as long as we’re throwing out ideas, what about a menopause weekend with midlife girlfriends or a graduation ceremony for someone in their 50s who went back to school to find a new career path? The only limit is your imagination. Be creative and create your own rites of passage. You deserve it.

Here’s a short clip from my talk at The Long Now Foundation exploring why midlife is missing these rites of passage.

Go deeper with a workshop, in person or online.

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