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When Friends Divorce
Photo: Naama Y.M.
The insistent ringing of the phone stirred me into wakefulness. Reaching for the receiver, I mumbled a faint “hello?” My friend’s words came frantically, interspersed with sobs. “Dave and I just had our worst fight ever and he’s moving out and filing for divorce!”

Suddenly I was wide awake. My husband and I had known Rachel and Dave for several years and enjoyed many pleasant times with them. Could this really be happening?

With the current wave of high divorce rates, this scenario is a sad reality for many of us. If you are suffering through the turmoil of watching friends divorce, these suggestions may help:

Helpful Suggestions

1. Let your friends know that whether or not you agree with their decisions you still value them as individuals. Don’t get caught in the “good guys/bad guys trap. There are no winners in a divorce—everyone loses.

2. Avoid offering quick conclusions or unsolicited advice. Saying things like, “It could be worse,” or “Everything will work out” does not acknowledge their loss.

3. Reassure your friends that however long it takes them to recover from the devastation of divorce you are willing to be there for them. You will need to deal with your own grief over the death of the relationship if you were close friends with the couple.

4. Encourage your friends to express their feelings. Even if you don’t agree with their perspectives let them know you accept their feelings. “If you feel accepted,” said one young woman whose husband abandoned her, “you will work through your own anger.” A listening ear is truly the best gift in every stage of grief.

5. Offer practical assistance. Your friends may be moving or seeking new jobs. They may need help with things previously done by the former spouse, like yard work, food preparation or vehicle repairs. Make specific offers, such as: “I’d like to bring dinner over for you Wednesday evening” or “May we take your kids to the zoo this weekend?”

6. Resist the urge to push your newly divorced friends to socialize. It takes time to adjust to the complexities of divorce. Just continue to offer your friendship and allow them time to heal.

No one who has suffered a terrible crisis will ever be the same. Yet given enough time and support most people eventually make their way through the agonizing maze of grief and regain their emotional balance. Until that time, the most important thing you can do for your friends is to simply be there comforting and supporting them as they search for acceptance and personal growth.

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By Brenda Dickerson. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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