When someone is your best friend, you’ve been through a lot together: college, post-grad struggles, weddings, babies, the works. Witnessing your BFF accomplish wonderful things is an amazing feeling — but being there for them to lean on when things get tough can be hard. We all hate to see the people we love in distress, especially when it comes to something as serious as a divorce. It might feel daunting to help your bestie through this difficult life transition, but licensed mental health counselor Colleen Andre has some expert advice to make the process easier. “If your friend is going through a divorce, they’re going to experience stages of grief because they’re dealing with loss,” Andre explains. “That person is losing part of themself, so it’s important to let them go through the process of healing.” Read on for more tips on how to help your best friend during these stages.
1. Know that it will be emotional. Going through a divorce and the process of grieving the relationship means that your friend will experience many different emotions, Andre shares. Sometimes they might feel angry and other times they might feel frustrated and sad. These emotions will probably come and go rapidly, which is totally normal. In these moments, Andre says the best way to be there for your friend is to allow them to feel they way they feel without judgment.
2. Advice isn’t necessary. It’s hard to watch your friend go through something this hard and not be able to do anything about it. In these moments, it’s probably tempting to offer advice or compare your friend’s situation to others you’ve experienced or heard of. While this can sometimes help, Andre recommends being judicious with your advice — especially since your friend simply needs to heal at this point. “Ask permission to talk about the divorce. Don’t assume that they want to talk about it all the time or that they need advice, because that might be the last thing they need in that moment.”
3. Take them out. And by “out,” Andre means away from places that could recall memories of their marriage. Grieving a relationship can leave someone feeling really lonely, and Andre recommends taking your friend to dinner, coffee, or a movie for a simple change of scenery. Taking them out of the physical spaces that remind them of their loss is a simple but effective way to distract them and provide them with something to look forward to.
4. Ask them what they need. “Offer yourself up to them,” Andre encourages. “That allows them to have control over when and if they talk about it.” Some people grieve through sharing their feelings verbally, whereas others need to process more internally. By asking your friend how you can best be there for them, you’ll allow them to get the most support from your friendship during this difficult time.
How has a friend helped you through a divorce or a bad breakup? Let us know @BritandCo.
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