Watching someone go through a divorce can be as horrible as going through it yourself. Seeing someone close to you suffer will sometimes automatically set off your protective instinct, which is not ideal given that it’s not your fight. It will be exhausting to include yourself in the battle that your friend or sibling or child is facing. Suddenly the other party’s infidelity or discretion offends you. Suddenly the other party is your enemy. It’s normal to be angry at the offending party, but that shouldn’t necessarily be the case.


Don’t Make It About You

If you genuinely want to help, don’t make it about you. You might be meaning well, but the advice you’re giving is without facts and often wrong. Then it will start to show your prejudices and trigger your masked pain. Then you will project it into the scenario that your friend, or sibling, or child is in right now. That’s not helpful. Their situation is not the right time for you to work out your issues.


Listen Instead

Instead of yapping about how your mother felt when your dad left, or how your other friend supposedly recovered after that person’s divorce, listen to them. Don’t talk. Just pay good attention. Let them pour it out for a good ten minutes. Do not invalidate their feelings because, in your opinion, the other person had it worse. Empathize. Don’t pity.


Don’t Pour Scorn on the Offending Party

Often, they still hold positive feelings for the other, especially when they have to co-parent. That is why calling the offending spouse “the biggest jerkwad” is unhealthy and unnecessary. Not only that, it takes so much energy to be angry, and anger resolves nothing.


Focus on Your Friend Instead

Instead of spending so much energy cursing the offender, think about what they need. Do they need to move? Help them pack. Packing is a hot button that triggers difficult emotions. Be there. Watch the kids when they have a doctor’s appointment. Pick up the groceries. These things will help them cope with because although they lost a spouse, they still have a partner in you.


Don’t Give False Promises

“If you need anything, I’m here,” is a default statement you shouldn’t be tempted to say, ever, especially when you have doubts if you can commit or not. They need help, and they’re too defeated to ask it out loud. If you know that for a fact, you should go all the way.


Show Up With a Meal

Cooking after a divorce is a painful reminder of a broken or incomplete family. It’s a feat for those who are going through a rough patch. A home-cooked meal is not only thoughtful. It’s life-saving. If you don’t know what to get, bring over pizza. This gesture is one of the many ways to let them know that they’re not alone and that you care.


Don’t Let Them Destroy Themselves

Self-destruction is one of the many roads that look very tempting for people who are hurting. If you see them or hear them make extensive plans about hurting themselves, speak out, and stop them. Tell them it’s intolerable and it wouldn’t do them any good. If they’re planning on retaliation, no matter how justifying it sounds, don’t let them.


Encourage Them to Move Forward

Setting them up on a date with new people is not going to be helpful anytime soon. Buy self-help books for them. Attend self-help seminars with them. Get them to start new hobbies, such as gardening. Sign them up to volunteer communities. Get them out of their shell and don’t give up.

You can do more for a friend or sibling or a child who’s going through a divorce. You only have to do the right things.

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