If you have experienced separation or divorce, you know firsthand how painful and overwhelming it can be. Even if it was a terrible situation, it doesn’t necessarily make it easier to move forward – you still have to go through the healing process and adjust to life without your spouse.
Do you know how you would handle it if your friend told you that they are getting a divorce?
This is not a time for you to give your two cents, put the other person down, or pick sides. Nor should it be a time when you put the focus on you and share your story. No two separations or divorces are the same. Also, remember that a breakup that you may have recently experienced is not equivalent to a divorce where lawyers have to get involved and issues like child custody may need to be addressed.
You should simply support your friend by being a good listener. Understand that they will likely be unable to have full control of their emotions at this time as well – possibly getting angry or very upset at the drop of a hat. This is a time when you have to be extra sensitive to their feelings. Don’t take their reactions personally.
Of course you can give advice if asked – but be sure that it is positive, constructive, and empathetic advice, delivered in a gentle and non-judgmental way. Ensure that they know you will be there for them when they need you, but if they do call on you, make sure that you are truly there for them. Real friends are there to support each other through these types of difficult life transitions.
It is important to respect one’s privacy. Don’t drill them for answers just to fulfill your curiosity. If they share something with you, keep it to yourself. Having their trust betrayed at such a vulnerable time could amplify things immensely.
Staying busy is a great way to help people cope and getting out with friends is a good way to start moving on with life – so be sure to invite them out and include them in your plans. Even if they say they are not interested in hanging out, keep inviting them – just having an invite from someone can make a person feel better and supported. It will also make them feel good to know that they have people to spend time with when they are ready to do so.
The bottom line – you should check on your friend often and make sure that they are okay. Offer help when needed. When someone is going through a hard time, the smallest gesture of kindness can make a world of difference.