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How to Help Someone Going Through a Divorce

by Shannon Philpott

When coping with the process of a divorce, people often feel as if they are traveling on an emotional roller coaster. From anger and bitterness to feelings of sadness and regret, when the emotions are overwhelming, a helping hand can make all the difference. Offering emotional support to a friend or family member coping with divorce involves learning how to comfort others by distracting them from the pain and offering to act as a sounding board when times are tough.

Organize and Purge

Beyond facing the emotions that accompany divorce, people often have to pack, move and start over as a result of the breakup. Lend a helping hand by offering to organize and declutter the environment. According to the Psych Central article “Reduce the Stress of a Divorce,” tossing out items that are too painful to look at or that belonged to the ex can help reduce stress and aid in the healing process.

Plan Social Outings

It can be tempting to withdraw socially when going through a divorce, but that can be detrimental to a person’s emotional health. Help your friend or family member by planning small social outings with friends, such as lunch in the park, a night at a club, an arts and crafts social or a sporting event. Social gatherings can remind the divorcee of the importance of support, perspective and help from friends, according to Psych Central.

Stop Advising

Often times, well-intentioned friends and family offer advice to protect loved ones when facing a divorce, however, the advice often leans toward revenge, paranoia and aggressive tactics versus genuine support, according to divorce mediator Sam Margulies in the Psychology Today article “When Friends and Family Get Divorced.” As a result, instead of calming a friend going through a divorce, the advice can lead to alarming and frightening feelings versus reassurance. Help your friend by keeping advice to a minimum and listen more than you talk. Knowing that someone is willing to listen to his or her concerns and fears can be more helpful than advice that may steer a divorcee in the wrong direction.

Be Useful

Beyond supportive words, a person going through a divorce may need help with practical matters. Offer to review a budget, seek housing, maintain household chores, help with child care or car maintenance to make life a little more manageable for someone coping with a divorce, recommends relationship author and speaker Laura Petherbridge in the article “Helping a Friend Through a Divorce” on the Christian Broadcasting Network. If your friend or family member is having trouble focusing, help organize the home, cook meals or maintain the lawn so he or she has one less thing to worry about when coping with a pending divorce.

About the Author

Shannon Philpott has been a writer since 1999. She has experience as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer and online copywriter. Philpott has published articles in St. Louis metro newspapers, "Woman's World" magazine, "CollegeBound Teen" magazine and on e-commerce websites, and also teaches college journalism and English. She holds a Master of Arts in English from Southern Illinois University.

Photo Credits

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