6 Tips for Helping Your Friend or Family Member Through Their Divorce
By Jennifer Rose
Attorney, Certified Family Law Specialist
1. Be a good listener: Sometimes people going through divorce just need to vent, talk, or a shoulder to cry on. One of the best things you can do is just be there to listen and be understanding without feeling the need to jump in and tell them what you think they should do or trying to pump them up. Sometimes people just need to get those feelings out and be allowed to grieve without feeling that you are passing judgment or marginalizing the situation by giving a bouncy pep talk.
2. Avoid making comparisons or giving “legal advice”: Every divorce is as different as a snowflake so I’d be very careful comparing your divorce or one of someone else you know to your friend’s. What might have been true for you in your divorce may not be in hers so there is no sense comparing apples and oranges. It is often a painful and confusing time and even well intentioned advice can do your friend more harm than good. This is the time to step back and let their attorney help them with the legal decisions; not only do they know the current law, but they may well know factors your friend isn’t comfortable telling anyone else.
3. Be helpful: Be on the lookout for things that you can do to help lighten your friend’s load. Things like taking food to your friend or mowing their grass are not only appreciated, but it can also serve to take up a little of the slack they might have from their missing spouse while they are adjusting. Divorce can make it tough to function and everyday tasks that used to be easy can become very difficult when someone is grieving. Eventually they should be back on their feet, but right now they might just need that extra bit of help to get over the hump.
4. Get them out of the house: Often people who are divorcing will withdraw into their shell and enter an even deeper depressive state. Try to plan activities for you and your friend to get out of the house so they can unwind and free their mind for a little while. Going to the movies, working out, or going shopping are just a few ideas for things you can do that are quick but impactful in getting them out into the real world again.
5. Don’t force the issue: Your friend is going to heal at her own pace, allow that to happen without trying to intervene. I know it might be tempting to try to set your friend up with your cute coworker, but it’s best to wait until she tells you she’s ready to date again before you start setting up those match.com profiles. It might take her far longer to move on than you expect, even after the divorce is over, but your job is just to be there for her as a friend, not to push her through her healing process at your pace.
6. Love unconditionally: This may be the most important of all, love them unconditionally, and make sure they know it. Let your friend know that no matter what happens that they are special, worthwhile, and that you and many others will always love them. Send your friend flowers or a card every now and then; actions always speak louder than words.
Attorney and Certified Family Law Specialist, Jennifer Rose, answers readers’ questions about family and matrimonial law.
Jennifer G. Rose is the founder and lead attorney at The Rose Law Firm LLC. One of only a handful of certified family law specialists in the state, Jennifer and her firm have won dozens of awards for their work in the field. Those wishing to reach her may call 205-323-1124, 24 hours a day or visit rosefamilylaw.com. Her firm gives complimentary initial consultations in person.
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