Article written by Mandeep Clair, Solicitor, Family department
Going through a divorce can be both emotional and stressful. During this time, it is important to have a strong network or friends and family around you. But for those who have not been through a divorce, it can be difficult to know how to support someone or even find the right words to say. In this update, I explore things you could do to offer meaningful support to someone going through a divorce.
Knowing what to say to someone going through a divorce
When someone is going through a divorce, knowing what to say can be difficult. What if I say something that makes them feel worse? A sensitive approach is best. Refrain from not saying anything at all – ask them how they are feeling and whether they would like to talk about anything. Small, thoughtful acts can go a long way. Your friend or relative may feel relieved and have a sense of optimism if you mirror their language and tone of voice.
Knowing what not to say to someone going through a divorce
Resist the temptation to bad mouth their ex or share negative thoughts about them and their relationship. Be supportive and show empathy.
While a person is going through a divorce, offering your undivided attention, and listening is truly important. This will allow the person to get things off their chest and you will gain a better understanding as to how they feel about the divorce. This gives you the opportunity to provide the right support.
Check in regularly
Regular contact with friends and family going through divorce can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Follow their lead. SMS and WhatsApp messages do not always need to be ‘deep’.
Keep them socially involved
Divorce can cause divisions in friendships, particularly when you are part of the same groups.
Let your friend or relative know they can rely on your support and companionship. Even if you invite them out and they say no, include them in your plans. When the time is right for them, they will be assured that their company is valued.
Offer practical support
You can support a friend or family member going through divorce in many ways. Do they need help finding a new home? If they’ve found new accommodation, do they need help packing their belongings or moving? Do they need any help with childcare? Offering support in this way can free them to focus their time and energy elsewhere.
Do not just assume
For some, divorce can be challenging and painful. For others, it can feel like a relief and a huge weight off their shoulders. Find a way to support the divorcee in a way that truly helps them.
For more information on divorce or to discuss a particular family matter further, please feel free to email me or contact the team on 020 8858 6971.