Whether the relationship ended on good terms or bad terms, divorce is an extremely difficult ordeal for anyone to experience. When one of your friends is going through divorce, it’s your job -- as a friend -- to provide support and encouragement every step of the way. There are no “perfect” words to say to a friend experiencing divorce. Instead, allow your friend’s demeanor and wishes to determine your conversations and actions.
Words of Strength
During a friend’s divorce, you’ll want to be encouraging, comforting and supportive. Although you shouldn't tell your friend that he is “better off without” his spouse, let him know he’s strong enough to survive the ordeal. Give him confidence that he’ll be able to successfully build a new life -- and let him know you’ll be by his side every step of the way. Help him see the positive points of his life and steer him toward other sources of support and stability. Lend him your ear when he needs to talk. As he talks, respect his point of view and avoid including judgments in the conversation.
Sometimes, the best words you can say to a friend during divorce are those unrelated to the idea of divorce. You’ll certainly need to confront the issue at some point -- most likely when you first learn about the divorce. But once the initial conversation has passed, your friend might be more receptive to off-topic conversations. Whether it’s talking about the latest celebrity gossip, plans for the future or miscellaneous chitchat, your friend might appreciate the opportunity to free her mind from the daily stress of divorce.
During a divorce, some people simply wish to be alone. They don’t want to talk about the situation and they have a difficult time finding interest in other topics. Although you’ll want to support your friend during this difficult time, respect his wishes. If he doesn’t want to talk, send him a quick e-mail or text message to let him know you’re around if he needs you. If you want to be supportive, drop off heat-and-eat meals at his home or send a gift card for his favorite coffee shop through the mail.
What Not To Say
Although it’s important to know what to say to a friend during a divorce, it might be even more important to know what not to say in the situation. During and immediately after the divorce, your friend will likely be extremely sensitive and easily offended. Avoid judging your friend, her spouse or her marriage in any way. As with any relationship, you never really know what happens behind closed doors and you may not know much about their true relationship. Also, avoid criticizing your friend’s spouse. Although she may not feel very fond of him right now, your criticisms might only make the situation more difficult. If you do say something inappropriate or offensive, apologize quickly and allow your friend the time she needs to forget about the incident.