Helping a friend recover from divorce can be as simple as being there for her when she needs you.
If you have a friend going through a divorce, you likely want to help but might not know the right thing to say or do. Helping a friend recover from divorce is something we all want to do.
According to Miller & Steiert, P.C., a Denver family attorney, “Generally speaking, if you have that go to trial in Colorado for your divorce case, you could be anywhere from six to eight months to a year before your divorce is finalized.”
But the emotional recovery period may not be over when all the paperwork has been completed. It could take more or less time, depending on the individual.
Here are some ideas for how you can help a friend recover from divorce.
1. Just listen. Don’t give advice.
Talking is a way for people to work through and process difficult situations and emotions. Feel like you do not have any good advice to offer? That is perfectly okay. Your role at this point is simply to be a listening ear. You are not a therapist, so you do not need to try and give advice like one.
Your friend might seem emotionally unstable, but that is to be expected of anyone going through a life-altering circumstance. He or she will get over it in time.
If you feel that he or she is at risk of doing themselves or others harm, seek professional help. Find a list of therapists who specialize in helping individuals through separation. And encourage your friend to try out a session.
Otherwise, just be available as a listening ear. Yes, it might feel exhausting at times. But keep in mind that friendships go in cycles. Today you are the bulwark; tomorrow you might be the one who needs a shoulder to cry on.
2. Help them get out of the house.
Their house often holds memories of his or her past life with their ex-partner. Help them get away from those memories by inviting him or her out to coffee. Or go for a walk, or ask them to ride along for whatever weekend entertainment you have planned.
Studies have shown that hikes and walks in nature have mood-boosting benefits. And a change in scenery has been a known cure for helping to shift one’s mood.
Other mood-boosting activities to do with your friend include, getting a massage, going to a nail salon or a hair salon, or sign up for a class together.
3. Give them lots of hugs.
This might seem odd, but it helps. A hug, a hand on their shoulder, or holding their hand. Do what comes naturally to you, and what they are comfortable with. Humans need touch.
Being touch deprived is a condition that can have negative consequences to one’s emotional well-being. A person going through a separation is likely to be getting fewer benefits from touching than when he or she was in a relationship.
Benefits include an improved immune system, a release of oxytocin, and a reduction of the stress response in your body.
4. Drop by a lot.
It does not need to be for any particular reason. In fact, your friend might feel too emotionally exhausted for elaborate plans. But showing up with a bottle of wine, or a six-pack of beer, and hanging out might be what he or she needs to distract them from sad thoughts.
Often, when individuals go through a divorce, the amount of time they used to spend with their partner needs to be filled in other ways. Dropping by can help to fill that blank space in their day. They might not say as much, but they will appreciate your presence.
5. Avoid generalizations and making judgments.
It can be easy to want to join in on the ex-bashing. But avoid it. Your friend will do enough for the both of you. Additionally, avoid generalizing their situation by stating how common divorce is. Or that they now get another chance to find someone else. These are well-meaning statements but do nothing to help ease the other person’s emotional pain.
What can you say that will help? It is actually very simple. “I’m here” and “I’m listening” works like a charm.
Being there for a friend during their low points is one of the essential elements of a supportive friendship. Right now, it might feel like you are the only one making an investment in your friendship, but your friend will remember your support. And good karma will find you out.