Seeing someone that you care about in pain is not easy, especially when there is nothing that you can do to help the situation.
Different people react differently to divorce. Few people feel complete and unmitigated joy (although there are some). More often, the emotional affects of divorce range from upsetting to devastating.
If you are close to someone who is going through a divorce, you may not be sure of your role. You want to support them, without overstepping your bounds. Here is some guidance:
- Ask them what they need. They may not know, but just having the offer lets them know that you are in their corner.
- Give them what they want, not what you want them to have. Individuals vary, but some may want less help rather than more, especially if they are proud of their new independence.
- Respect their boundaries. Are they declining your offer of help to be polite, or because you are getting too involved? Do they change the subject when you ask certain questions?
- Make sure that they respect your boundaries. Your friend may need more help than you are willing or able to give. You may want to serve as babysitter, counselor, and adviser but you should set your pace so you don't wear yourself out and are able to handle your own life as well. Also, playing a role that you are not qualified to play (acting like their lawyer, accountant or psychologist when you are not) can cause more harm than good.
- Help in small ways. Giving a ride to an appointment, babysitting for an hour or two so your friend can have some time alone, offering to pick up groceries or help with other errands, these are all invaluable to someone who is emotionally overwhelmed and going through a lot of changes. You can also help by referring your friend to a trustworthy lawyer, support group, psychologist, day care, spiritual leader, accountant, or other professional person or service that can help them through this difficult time in their life.