The divorce process can be overwhelming and stressful. People going through divorce experience a variety of life changes accompanied by sometimes very intense emotions. Even the person who wants out of the marriage must deal with adjustments and sort through feelings. If you are watching a friend or loved one go through a divorce, it is hard to know how to help. What should (or shouldn’t) you say or do when you are supporting someone through a divorce?
Suggestions and tips on supporting someone through a divorce
The following list provides some suggestions.
- Keep inviting them out to do things, even if they often decline.
- If they’re moving, help them pack. If their ex is moving, help them reorganize and settle back into their place after it happens.
- Just listen. Resist the urge to give advice or tell them about your own divorce experience or someone else’s divorce experience.
- Don’t hide. If you aren’t sure what to say or do, tell your friend just that but don’t avoid or ignore them.
- Don’t trash their ex. Negative talk and energy will not help them.
- Help them out with tasks their ex may have done. For example, cleaning the house, taking the garbage out, grocery shopping or mowing the lawn. Having one less thing to do in the short-term can be a huge weight lifted from their shoulders.
- Do research for them. Can you gather names of divorce attorneys, counselors or child therapists? Ask them if you can assist with any research or referrals they may need.
- Show up with a meal (or maybe several).
- Offer to take their kids for an afternoon or evening.
- Don’t press for details. If they want to share information, they will.
- Send a supportive text or leave a card or flowers on their doorstep. Do this regularly without expecting anything in return. Just knowing that someone else cares will help immensely.
- Be there when the divorce process is complete. Emotions and grief don’t disappear when the divorce judgment is signed. Show grace and compassion. Continue to show up and be supportive.
Show up and be there
Whether you do one, two or all the suggestions on this list isn’t important. What’s most important is that you try to help and make sure the person going through the divorce knows you care, and they matter. Divorce is a dark time for people, but you can share light and love.