I recently had a friend ask me what the most helpful support that I received during my divorce was. She had another friend who was on the verge of beginning the divorce process and she wanted to show the best support and care that she could to her friend.
I have to say that during the process, I had some pretty amazing friends and family around me. My life today looks nothing like it did six years ago, and the friends who are still involved in my life today are that much more precious to me.
I think it is pretty common when people we care about are going through a tough situation, relationship, or just life in general that we want to be supportive. Sometimes though, we tend to hold back, to not seem intrusive. We fear saying or doing the wrong thing, and therefore many times opt to do nothing.
The support and comfort given vary in most cases on the depth of the relationship prior to the event.
- I had one friend learn my kid’s favorite snacks, and she would drop them by periodically.
- One member of my family would wash and fold laundry while I was away from the house.
- One friend stopped by to see me, found me still in bed, and spent time directing my kids to clean the living room while she made them lunch.
- That same friend, after taking care of my children, came to my room, crawled in my bed and laid there with me in silence until the tears were gone. This was the weekend my kid’s father had returned from overseas and he had informed the kids of the divorce plans. I couldn’t hold it together any longer, and she made it safe for me to fall apart.
- Multiple friends seemed to be on a rotation of ice cream and diet coke deliveries.
- Prior to the divorce, when my ex left for an extended work trip, one of the neighbors who went to our church came and told me he would be mowing the grass for the summer. I tried to push back, saying I could do it, he said: “you do not get the right to cause me to not fulfill what I feel God is telling me to do.” So I let him. And I was grateful all summer long.
Then there are other friends who seem to emerge through the trauma itself. I had one dear, dear friend, who prior to it all I barely knew. We were acquaintances. Then the divorce came, and she had one hit at the same time. We NEEDED each other. We had constant 2 am phone calls. We fell apart together. We were vulnerable and broken together.
We have both put the pieces back together and have moved on since then, and we are not as close, but I cherish her during those days and months.
More than anything, our friends, and ourselves want to feel “safe” and not judged.
I felt judged by a lot of people. Whether it was real or not, I don’t know, but that’s how it felt. I closed ranks pretty tightly with the people I felt no judgment from.
It is true that not every relationship is the same, and neither is every divorce.
Like any loss, the people involved have to work their way through the grief stages, and those around them are challenged to help them know they are not alone.
Getting stuck in one stage or another may feel comfortable and safe at the time, but the healing and rebuilding come after they are completed.