Divorce: Our Personal Tsunami

In 2011, an earthquake and tsunami tore through Japan. 16,000 people died during the natural disaster and many communities are still recovering 6 years later.

But one coastal Japanese town is offering a unique way to help many Japanese who lost a family member deal with their grief in a unique way—a white telephone booth with glass panels. Sitting atop a grassy hill in Otsuchi, overlooking the Pacific Ocean the phone booth, which only has a disconnected rotary phone inside, has become a place where families who lost a loved one suddenly in the tsunami can communicate to the loved one they lost.

Otsuchi is a town that was decimated in the disaster. The entire area caved in within 30 minutes and 10 percent of the town’s population was killed. The immediacy of the loss was sudden and complete and unanticipated.

But the phone booth was not installed in response to the tsunami. It was installed one year before the disaster by Itaru Sasaki who installed the phone booth in his garden to help himself move past the death of his cousin. “Because my thoughts couldn’t be relayed over a regular phone line,” Sasaki said “I wanted them to be carried on the wind.”

The booth has since become the “wind phone” and has become a sort of pilgrimage for those dealing with the death of a loved one. In the three years after the disaster, the booth received over 10,000 visitors.

For many of us our divorce is our own personal tsunami, destroying much more than 10% of our personal lives. We lose our family, our personal community and our lives as we imagined them are changed forever. For many of us we are surprised and unprepared. We are hurt and our lives cave in in what feels like less than 30 minutes.

Then we are asked to respond to the divorce process. Contemporary divorce is measured in money where each party either stands to win or lose. For those couples going through that process thinking that is the measure is where they make they make their first mistake and possibly their forever mistake. You can’t measure the loss of a marriage in terms of money. It is so much more.

This is why I wrote Deconstructing Divorce.

I wrote Deconstructing Divorce because even after 17 years the impact of my divorce on my family continues. And while some of that might continue to be financial, most of it isn’t. Most of it is everything else.

We continue to have to deal with decisions together. How should we do this or that? Our kids will continue to ask themselves how will Dad feel, how will Mom feel? How do we handle the schedule? Who should come to this, or that?

With all that in mind, do you want to base your conversations today on your money or the long term best interests of your family?

Much like the tsunami in Japan, the tsunami of divorce is a real emotional loss. The money may be the issue of your divorce today but do you want it to be?

When you look back what do you want to all in your tribe to remember you for…..being concerned about the money or them?

If it was them you may not need a phone booth!

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