10/21/11

Supporting Someone Going Through Divorce

Have you landed on this blog because you are looking for ways to help a friend or relative who is going through a divorce? Here's what helped me:

  • 100% acceptance - give your friend a safe non-judgmental environment to vent. But don't participate in the blame game. That only makes things worse.
  • Be someone who understands that your friend's pain is real - do not bring up individuals who have had it worse, like widows or burn victims, or say "at least you have your children", or "thank goodness you don't have children," or "you have your looks and health, you will find someone soon again." Those phrases diminish the real pain that your friend is experiencing at that moment.
  • Promise secrecy - what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. Private matters that have been disclosed to you should not be shared with others, not even your spouse.
  • Provide your friend with a shoulder to cry on - let them talk; sometimes that is all they need, but place a time limit on their pity pot talk. Change the subject if your friend starts to rehash familiar territory. They need to grieve first and then let their anger out, but it is not good for them to mull over the same set of offenses over and over again.
  • Give them hugs - remember that someone going through divorce has lost physical contact with their life's mate, and that hugs are better than medicine.
  • Provide your friend with your logic and ability to think straight - depression affects the brain. Remember, your friend is filled with anxiety and there are times when he or she can't plan strategically at all. Refer your friend to experts and self-help groups, or help them sort through the myriad of bewildering topics they will need to address - lawyers, realtors, job searches.
  • Include your friend in fun outings and invite them to parties and events - even if they don't feel like going. This especially holds true for women, who are often dumped from the party circuit for reasons that are mystifying.
  • Keep in touch with regular calls, text messages, and via Facebook, Twitter, and cards - your friend may not respond, but these evidences of caring help. They'll come round and respond eventually.
  • Be an honest friend - this takes diplomacy, but if you see self-destructive behavior, have the courage to step in and stop it.
  • Give them a way to pay you back - your friend will feel such a sense of gratitude for your support that they will want to thank you in a significant way. Let them, or ask them to pay it forward.
  • Drive them or their children - many separated people are unable to share the load of driving, which becomes evident as time passes. Offer to drive when you go on a shared outing, or to take their children to their events. It's the little details that count and provide relief.
Do you have other tips on how to help a friend going through divorce or separation? Please leave a comment!

8 comments:

Lisa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joyce Pitrone Hawkins--Wrinkles Don't Hurt said...

I was lucky that my sisters came to my rescue to listen, share, and guide me. Don't know what I would have done without them.

Only now do I realize just how traumatic divorce is.

Ladies...we need to stick together...NOT move in on someone's husband.

One foot after the other. said...

Great Post, one more thing I would add as a person going through a divorce is to bring it up. I find it painful that 6 months into our separation, mutual friends who are in contact with us both are, rather than being like a concerned yet neutral party, instead approach me as if nothing has happened; chatty emails about books and dinners out. Its disheartening to not feel understood.

I have found separation and likely divorce to be such a hard thing to go through. To not have it acknowledge by those I was close to makes me sad. I haven't chucked the friends who are unable or unwilling to talk to me. But I also find that I do compare them with those friends who call me perhaps sporadically but when they do call say something as simple and authentic as "I can't stop thinking about you and ****, how are you doing 4 months on? How is he?" It means the world to me.

So that would be my added advice. To broach the subject because your friend who is divorcing is in such pain but likely has learned to just hide it and so feels very disconnected from many people. Reach out and be real.

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Jami Patin said...

Heart to heart conversations can be a big help in releasing the pent up emotions that usually come with divorce. Divorce can be mentally and emotionally tiresome, and there are people who find it difficult to handle the outcome of such an ordeal. Conversing about the topic can be hard, but it will help to release the negative emotions of the affected party.

Louisa Matsuura said...

There are people who just break down emotionally and mentally after a divorce. So it would be a good idea to cheer them up as much as you can. And providing support and the ability to think straight can be helpful in this time of need. You can help them realize that life does not end in divorce. Having someone there to remind them of things beyond divorce can help them move forward in life.

aliah said...

Divorce is emotionally very difficult time, you need a support of your family & friends. your family & friends can support you in your loneliness.
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