Going through a divorce can be a living nightmare. Even when the divorce process is smooth and amicable between two individuals, it's still heartbreaking. As a woman whose divorce is almost final, I can truly say that, even though my divorce has been 75 percent amicable and 25 percent not, it has taken a while to adjust to all the many life changes a divorce brings. This is amplified if your friend is like me, divorcing with a child involved. You have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get those Nikes or high heels back on quickly in order to parent effectively with someone who may potentially have completely different views on raising children than you do, or who you never see eye to eye with. It's challenging, to say the least.
But there is hope.
I have found a lot of happiness, even with the pitfalls of divorce like losing my home, dating again in the tumultuous and random dating-app world of left and right swipes, and sharing my daughter half of the time and missing her.
I say, in all honesty, that a great deal of my happiness and sanity I owe to my friends. I have a tight group of friends — both female and male, who have stood by me and my daughter during this time. In particular, my girlfriends (I even have a messaging chain on Facebook in which my ladies hear the scoop and support me with messages) have been there to remind me of who I am, help me when I needed someone whether it was for child care or other duties, and hug me when I cried. I am truly rich because of these friendships. For those of you with a friend going through a divorce, here are 10 ways you can support your friend during this tough time.
1. Accept the Moods
Your friend is overjoyed about the divorce one day and angry the next.
No, he or she is not psychotic, but simply experiencing the emotional roller coaster called divorce. It is very hard to sever ties with someone you once promised forever to. Let your friend go through these moods and accept the person as is. This is the best gift you can give your friend going through a divorce.
2. Dirty Talk
If your friend has kids, he or she should never say a bad word about the ex to the kids, but as a friend, be there when your friend needs to tell you the dirty details privately and join in with a load of empathy. Even the best people on earth can become the worst people on earth during the divorce process. The good news is most people become sane again.
3. Don't Wait — Reach Out
If your friend is alone on the holidays or spending his or her birthday alone, don't wait for your friend to come to you. Instead, offer to join your friend or invite your friend out. Even if you have to go to the person's house and drag him or her out, do it! Don't let the person wallow too much. It is important to cry and grieve, but isolating oneself is a bad road to go down when coping with a divorce.
4. Be There
Your friend will possibly have to move and endure other life changes along with the divorce. Be there to offer helping hands. You would be surprised at how many people ditch the person going through a divorce, possibly because they're afraid divorce is contagious or they don't approve of the divorce or because they were bad friends to begin with. Being present in your friend's life means everything.
5. Don't Offer Legal Advice
Unless you have gone through a divorce yourself, don't offer legal advice. You are most likely angry and hurt for your friend, and those emotions don't allow someone to give stable legal advice, plus you most likely have no clue about the legal system and how it works. Many people think alimony rolls off trees in divorce and that there is no way someone can dodge child support, but it does happen to some unfortunate people. The best legal advice you can offer someone is to say, "Have you shared this with your mediator or lawyer?"
6. Don't Force
If your friend is taking forever to date, don't force the person. Even if you think he or she would be happier, a little coaxing is fine, but being single after divorce for a while and during the divorce process is not a bad move at all. In fact, it's pretty smart.
7. Bring the Beer or Ice Cream
Your friend may not want to face people for a while, especially if he or she did not want the divorce or if this person's social world is incredibly mixed with her ex's social world. Bring the beer or ice cream to your friend to mourn together. Misery loves company, and it's OK if your friend is a little miserable right now.
If your friend is divorcing with kids and struggles to find help, be there if you can be. Even if it's just to give your friend an hour break or to watch the kids while he or she goes on a job interview, it's much appreciated.
9. Champion Your Friend and 10. Be Honest
Be the person rooting in the corner for your friend as he or she makes big or small steps toward finalizing the divorce and starting a new life.
More importantly, be honest with your friend. I believe my friends who have been honest with me have been immeasurably helpful during this divorce.
To all my friends for being one big rock in my life after and during divorce: you know who you are, and thank you! I can never repay that kindness.