How to support someone who's in the midst of a divorce
Jun 09, 2021
How to support someone going through a divorce
Going through a divorce can be heart breaking and devastating. It’s also a lonely and isolating time. When I went through my own divorce I didn’t know anyone who had been through it, so I had no one to talk to that really understood what I was going through. Unless you’ve been through it yourself, it’s impossible to truly understand the depths of grief involved and the rollercoaster of emotions experienced.
Having to watch a friend or family member go through divorce can be really tough and it’s difficult to know how best to support them.
Here are some Do’s and Don’ts of supporting someone who’s going through divorce:
- Do Reach out to them – Divorce can be a lonely and isolating experience. I remember being amongst a group of friends but still feeling totally alone. Let them know that you’re there for them at any time and keep inviting them to activities you’re involved in. Also be aware that they may prefer one on one time where they can feel that they can be more themselves. It takes a lot of effort when you’re struggling with divorce to put on a brave face and up your energy levels amongst a group of people. Sometimes you just don’t have it in you as it takes all your energy just to get through the day.
- Do ask them what they need – It’s difficult to know how to help and what your friend or family member needs. Just reach out to them and ask them what you can do to help.
- Do keep in touch and let them know you’re thinking of them – even if it’s just sending a text or a quick phone call to check in with them. If you’re feeling really low it can be hard to actually reach out to people yourself.
- Do help out with daily tasks – sometimes it’s the simple things like making dinner, mowing the lawn or taking the kids off their hands for a few hours that makes the most difference. Suddenly you find yourself in the situation where you have to deal with everything yourself without the support of your partner and someone to share the chores with. I know I found this totally overwhelming.
- Do listen – try and listen without judgement. Just let them express how they’re feeling and give them a shoulder to cry on if they need it.
- Do just be with them without expecting anything in return – They may not feel like chatting and don’t want to impose on you. Let them know that they don’t need to put on a brave face and pretend everything’s ok around you.
- Don’t tell them they’ll find someone else – in the early days after a breakup this will be the last thing they’ll want to hear, especially if it wasn’t their decision, and they won’t believe you either.
- Don’t tell them they’re better off without them – or you never liked them anyway. If it wasn’t their decision, then they really won’t see this and it will probably just upset them even more. They were in love with their ex at some point and potentially still are, so be considerate.
- Don’t feel like you have to fix it – The best thing you can do is to just be there for them and listen without trying to fix it. They’re grieving the end of their marriage and they have to go through the healing process.
- Don’t tell them they’ll get over it – they will - but this is potentially the last thing they believe at the moment. They’re in the midst of grief and can’t imagine their life without their partner. And they possibly don’t want to get over it – they just want things to go back to how they were.
- Don’t say “I know just how you feel” – I know we can say this from a good place as we want to show them that we understand what they’re going through and to show empathy – BUT we can never truly understand what someone else is feeling.
- Don’t ask them what happened – it’s not your place to ask such a personal questions. Let them know that you’re there for them if they want to talk about it but don’t pry. It may be too painful for them to talk about and going over and over their story to everyone just keeps them stuck and reconnected to all the negative emotions.
At the time, going through my divorce was the hardest thing I’d ever had to face in my life. I was completely blind-sided by it and devastated. Although my friends and family were there for me, I had never felt so alone without the person I’d expected to spend the rest of my life with.
A divorce coach can support you if you’re struggling to get over your divorce and you feel stuck, unhappy and unable to move on. They can help you to regain your confidence so you can create a new life that brings you joy, passion and fulfilment. They can help you to move on quicker than you would do on your own.
If you feel you would benefit from some support then please book a free call in and we can have a chat about how I could support you through this traumatic time.