When someone is blindsided by a divorce (even if it's a blessing in disguise), most of her friends and family don't quite know what to say. It doesn't matter how common the end of a marriage is. It never gets easier to come up with just the right words.
It's hard as the friend of the soon-to-be divorcee because you feel as though you're walking on eggshells, and you're trying not to make the situation worse.
As I'm in the middle of a divorce myself, though, I find the people who say nothing at all are the ones I will always remember. So here are some things you can say to your friend who's going through it all to let her know you care.
1) "Can I be your Plus 1 to (insert event here)?" For those of us who've had a built-in Plus 1 for many years, the prospect of going to a wedding or funeral alone can be daunting -- if not impossible.
2) "I love you." It doesn't, in the end, matter much who was at fault in the divorce -- if anyone was. Going through it makes one question everything they ever knew, including whether or not they're loved.
3) "You know I have your back." One of the most important things you can do for your divorced friend is to reassure her that no matter what, you're on her side.
4) "You're not a bad person -- this is just a hard situation." There's a lot of blame that goes around when you're divorcing -- and most of it is self-directed. Sometimes this gentle reassurance is all your friend needs to make it through the day.
5) "This sucks." Sometimes, we forget how hard it is to have your life tilted on its side. Seeing that someone else understands how much it sucks to be you (for the moment) can have a positive impact.
6) "Let's work on getting you sorted out." Especially if the divorcee is new to bills, finances, budgets, and other assorted running-a-household tasks, having someone to guide them through the process can be a lifesaver.
7) "Let me help you by bringing over (food, spa gift card, etc)." Often in the early days of a divorce, it's hard to remember to do the simple things, like eat, or take care of yourself. This is where you come in.
8) "One thing at a time." Your friend is probably so overwhelmed with court dates, kids, and moving out that she is pulled in every direction. Remind her that the only way to get a job done is to do it one baby step at a time.
9) "What do you need?" This can be anything from poring over divorce paperwork or helping brainstorm what to bring up to the lawyer to making grocery lists with your friend.
10) "You are not alone." After being in a relationship for years, a divorce can really do a number on your psyche. Which is why a reminder that you're not in it all by yourself can be exceptionally helpful.
How else can you best help someone who has just separated from her husband?
More from The Stir: