Let’s face it, there is nothing better than having a friend that you can vent to when your world seems to have gone haywire. Friends can share in joy and in sadness together and the purest of friendships can do this without judgment. Most women and men can name their closest friends within seconds because the feeling comes from deep inside of the soul – you know who your “ride or die” people are.
I have a good friend that I can call and, within seconds, one of us will bring the other on a wild tirade about something that is affecting our mood or our lives. It’s as if our prior conversation from days or weeks ago was on pause allowing us to resume our conversation almost instantly – come to think of it, I don’t think that we actually ever end a conversation. We laugh, we cry and we console one another. We are sarcastic and considerate all at once. There are many loose ends; nothing ever gets neatly tied up. But, that’s ok. We are messy together and that’s where the fun is in our friendship.
Yet, sometimes I wonder if during our conversation I gave her what she needed. Did I ease her pain? Did I help her outlook on the world? Did she leave our conversation unfulfilled? Did I help at all? I wonder these things because this is when friendship truly counts – when it’s not easy, when there is an emotional unraveling, and when the degree of pain cannot only be heard, but be felt.
We seek out our friends to comfort us when we are confronted with life’s inevitable problems. We lean on them. But…
What does a friend need during divorce? How can you be a friend when someone close to you is divorcing?
Here are 3 ways to help your friend during divorce:
Allow your friend the opportunity to vent without interruption. Avoid offering solutions immediately. It’s okay to ask questions that are on topic and help your friend to think of his/her divorce from a larger perspective. Additionally, make it clear that you are listening by repeating what your friend says or you can simply say, “I understand” and “I am here”. Your friend may be looking for you to take sides, and of course your instinct may be to do just that, but the best way you can help him/her is to keep the focus on the divorce – what is best for everyone in the long run. When a person goes through a divorce they tend to only see the “right now” and not the big picture.
- Be Available/Check-in
Remember, divorce is a process. Your friend’s pain does not end when the call ends. So, call your friend, send uplifting messages, and send text messages to your friend that serve to check up on and cheer him or her up. Remind this person that you are available for chats, coffee….or simply, to watch a movie. Remember you are doing this to help him or her, but also because being a good person and a good friend says a lot about you as well. You will feel good about being supportive to someone who needs it. Now, that being said, your friend may ask for space from checking it, or may appear unappreciative. In most instances, this is the furthest thing from the truth. Your friend is probably experiencing so much suffering from this emotional rollercoaster that being thankful or showing gratitude is not intentionally forgotten. Be patient with him or her.
- Be Positive
Make them smile! During your talks, your comments should serve to reassure your friend that he/she will survive! There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Remind your friend of his/her admirable qualities and the many opportunities that await them. Offer to do fun activities with your friend. Do not forget to remind your friend of things that he or she could not do before the divorce that he or she can do now. Be there to allow your friend to blow off some steam. Remember – your friend is going to be happy one day and sad the next. Your friend is not crazy, trust us! Divorce can be crazy, but your friend is still your friend! So, one day something may excite your friend, and another day, it may not. Some days your friend will complain, be sad, cry and other days she’ll want to go out to have fun. Don’t be pushy. Each day will be different, especially in the beginning; however, these mood swings will be fewer and farther between as time goes on, especially with your love and guidance.
We can learn a lot about ourselves when a friend is going through divorce. It’s an opportunity not only to learn more about human nature but to also discover what friendship is and what it means to you. It’s an opportunity to look at your role as “friend” and how that role can impact another’s life. Your friendship will grow deeper from having experienced this rollercoaster ride together.
Love begins with you!