All rituals that demark beginnings indicate endings and all rituals that demark endings indicate beginnings. A beginning is often known as a rite of passage; while endings may simply be rituals. All such changes involve making relationships different. A daughter becomes a wife, and never again will her relationship with her parents be the same: it has ended in a way that makes all things different. As a wife, she cannot prioritize her parents over her husband. So it is, her childhood vanishes in a wisp of a dream and so many small and large changes follow. This beginning, this relationship with her new husband, is concretized by the ritual of marriage. Because this ritual is well discussed – to the point of volumizing instruction manuals, expectations seem clear and the expected journey is well traveled.
Much about life that ends and begins does not have a ritual attached to it. Ideally, a ritual would ease the difficulty involved with accepting change, but in the absence of a ritual we must reach out to each other and discuss these changes so that we can accept them and pass through them.
In the case of marriage, the prescription for process behavior and the prescription for follow up behavior is clearly promulgated by our society. Other changes, universal as they are, have no such articulated prescriptions for process or follow up behavior. Such is the case with menopause.
With 89 million baby boomers in this country, it is hard to believe that we do not talk so much about this life changing process. There is much to be resisted about menopause. Women must say farewell to the looks of their youth. This is not to say that such women are no longer attractive, this is not to say that such women are no longer “hot”. It is to say that the attractiveness changes in an irrevocable way. There is no ritual or rite of passage attached to this life changing event and perhaps there should be. The social prescription for after-menopause is not a positive one – perhaps resistance of the process stems from this fact.
Humans are beautiful no matter what their age is and women are particularly so. Many societies do not honor the aged. It is past time that we honored ourselves and our age. It is time that we honor this Rite of Passage and claim our maturity and our beauty proudly.