The Good Friend’s Guide to Helping a Friend During Divorce
So many members of the Know law community say they joined because they know someone going through a divorce. They want to find a way to be supportive, and they find that our tip sheets, resources, and videos put them in a positive position to help their loved ones. They want to be helpful during this difficult process.
If you are one of these lovely people, you may wonder how best to support your friend or family member during this challenging time. While there are resources available on every aspect of divorce, from pre-leaving checklists to preparing for meetings with lawyers, we wanted to take things a step further. In this article, we will share stories of thoughtful ways people were supported during divorce, providing you with insights and ideas that are worth borrowing.
Rehash the “Good Old Days”
Going through a divorce can be rough, challenging, and lonely all at once. Having a supportive circle of friends can make a significant difference. One way to support someone going through a divorce is to rehash the “good old days” and share happy memories. Dr. Alisha Griffith, Au.D., CCC-SLP, shared her experience of friends who played a crucial role in her healing process. They stayed up late with her on the phone, picked her up, and provided a safe space where she could talk without judgment. Laughter was one of the most therapeutic aspects, as they reminisced about joyful moments from their past.
Show Up, In Person
Offering a listening ear in person can be incredibly meaningful for someone experiencing a divorce. Dr. Julie Gurner, a thought leader in personal development and psychology, recounts how she supported her male friend during his challenging divorce. Instead of resorting to texting, she invited him to a coffee shop for a private conversation, allowing him to share his feelings without pressure. Providing an opportunity for heartfelt conversation and emotional expression can make a significant impact during such times.
Don’t Stoke the Fire
While providing emotional support is essential, it is crucial not to stoke the fire by dwelling too much on the negative aspects of the situation. Arielle Band, founder and chief navigator of Colibri Life, advises against overly focusing on the spouse or the difficult circumstances. Instead, she suggests helping with practical matters, such as assisting with their children or encouraging them to stay social. These actions can alleviate some of the burdens during the divorce process.
Send an Unexpected Surprise
Sometimes, the most meaningful gestures are small, unexpected surprises. Monique Honaman shared a heartwarming story of a friend who sent her a thoughtful care package, containing items with meaningful notes attached. The care package served as a pick-me-up on a particularly difficult day and reminded her of the value of enduring friendships.
Stay Close, But Don’t Press
Navigating the complexities of divorce can be emotionally draining, and individuals may need different levels of support. Psychotherapist Annie Wright advises staying close to your friend going through a divorce without pressuring them into specific actions. Letting them know that you are there for them, ready to listen or lend a helping hand, can be comforting.
Other Tips for Helping a Friend Going Through Divorce
- Listen Without Judgment: Divorce can take a toll on a person’s self-esteem, and they may feel guilty or ashamed. Offering a non-judgmental ear and empathizing with their feelings can provide much-needed support.
- Provide Reassurance: Remind your friend of their positive qualities and have faith in their ability to recover and find happiness after the divorce.
- Nurture Them: Consider offering small tokens of care, like a card or a homemade meal, to show that you care.
- Make Yourself Available: Communicate that you are ready to talk and be there for your friend whenever they need it. Regular check-ins and shared activities can make them feel less alone.
- Remember, It’s the Little Things: Sometimes, the smallest gestures can have the most significant impact. Be attentive to their needs and offer your support in meaningful ways.
Supporting a loved one through a divorce is about being there for them in both big and small ways. Listening without judgment, offering reassurance, and providing thoughtful surprises can make a world of difference during this difficult time. Remember, it’s the little things that often mean the most.
- Should I avoid talking about the divorce with my friend? No, it’s essential to let your friend know that you are aware of what they are going through and that you are there to support them. However, avoid pressuring them to talk or to engage in self-care if they’re not ready.
- How can I best support a friend who is going through a divorce emotionally? Show empathy, be a good listener, and provide reassurance that you believe in their ability to overcome this challenging period in their life.
- What are some meaningful gestures I can make to support my friend? Sending unexpected care packages, offering to help with their children, or simply being present and available can be meaningful gestures during this time.
- Is it common for people to feel alone during divorce? Yes, divorce can be a lonely and isolating experience. Letting your friend know that they are not alone and that you are there for them can be incredibly comforting.
- How can I strike a balance between being supportive and not pressuring my friend? Be attentive to your friend’s needs and boundaries. Offer your support without insisting on specific actions or solutions. Let them know you are available whenever they need you.