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How to support someone going through a divorce

28 Sep
21

Watching someone you care about suffer, is not easy. Here are my tips on how to support someone through divorce

Two girlfriends hugging on the beach in winter looking at the camera smiling

What is worse than suffering yourself? Watching someone you care about suffer. A divorce is a life changing event that can cause a lot of pain. Knowing what to say or do and how to best support the people we care about in this situation can be a minefield –  either because we have not experienced it ourselves or because we have and that clouds your judgement. 

Here are my top tips to help someone you care about going through a divorce so they can come out stronger and better for it: 

Every divorce is unique 

Don’t make assumptions based on your own experience and try not to offer negative advice. They don’t need to hear that. Instead, reassure them that they are in control of their divorce and help them to find the right resources by assisting them in discovering  the right support and the right solicitor.  

 

1. Help them focus on a positive future

Help your friend or relative by getting them to focus on building a healthy co-parenting relationship,  rediscovering or redefining who they are and doing things they have put off or never done. This is an opportunity to build a new future. 

 

2. Keep inviting them out, even if they often decline 

Checking in regularly can feel like a pain but it’s good to do. If they say no, accept it and invite them again next time. There is a grieving process to go through that takes time and everyone moves at their own pace. Knowing someone is there is important and allows them to reach out or move on when they are ready. 

 

3. Help them establish a new normal

One of the hardest things about divorce is all the change that takes place. We are creatures of habit – having a routine helps us meet our basic needs for certainty. Help your friend or relative to establish a new normal that prioritises their emotional, physical and mental well-being. This blog is a great place to start. 

  

4. Be specific when offering support 

Often, we can feel overwhelmed and not want to ask for help or even know what help we need. We also don’t like to burden people. So, make it easy for your prospective divorcee to accept help by being specific – they are more likely to take you up on your offer. For instance, rather than saying let me know if you need anything, try offering to pick the kids up, do an errand to give them some free time or take them out for a dog walk. 


5. Do not indulge in ex-bashing, especially in front of their children

What has been has been, and similarly what you think of their ex is by the by. Over analysing or wasting time hating an ex is just going to keep them and you in a negative place which slows the healing process. It is also extremely damaging to their children. Instead, try to get your friend or relative  to be grateful for their children, for having a new future and the good times to come. This will help them.


6. Laughter is good for the soul

Laughter has been proven to provide huge benefits to our emotional, mental and even physical wellbeing. Find reasons and create opportunities to laugh and feel light again. Comedy nights, films, trying something new or something you can just be silly at. 


7. Don’t make it about you 

Finally, if you have been divorced and are still harbouring pain or resentment towards your ex, you need to deal with your issues for your own sake and not bring them up here. You are not going to benefit the person you are trying to help in any way by washing your dirty laundry with them.


If you follow these tips your friend or relative will learn to appreciate your effort and be glad of your assistance, but never forget this is an emotional journey full of ups and downs. It isn’t easy for anyone and people are always looking for someone to push their frustration on to..Do not hold this against someone going through a divorce, just be prepared to join them on this rollercoaster journey and know it will get better, in the end.


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