Sunday, September 26, 2010

Like Stars

"Friends are like stars; you don't always see them,
but you always know they are there." - Unknown
I have this pile of books on my nightstand that I really need to start reading. I was dusting (around it, of course) and noticed that one of the books is a self-help book a friend gave me right after my separation. 

I started thinking about the reactions of my friends and family when I told them I was getting divorced. At one point, I actually started out-sourcing the task. At work, I told the person most likely to spread the story; took myself right out of the conversation. 

That didn't work with everyone, of course. Certain family and friends needed to hear it from me. Some of their reactions still make me shake my head. 

When your friend tells you she is getting divorced, don't say (or do):
  • Who is she? [Assumes too much.]
  • I knew this was coming. [Rude]
  • What took so long? [Still rude]
  • Oh my God! How will you live? [Trust me, she's already had this panic attack. Don't remind her.]
  • Are you going to move back in with your Dad? [<~ What the...?]
  • There's no chance he wants to get back together? [Don't assume it's his decision.]
  • Thank God you didn't have any kids. [Right - cause that makes it all better.]
  • Take him for all he's worth. [This also assumes too much.]
  • Here's a self help book. [This just points out all of her flaws; not the best time, k?]

Your friend is sad. She's hurt, confused and just needs someone to listen. So what can you say or do? 
  • Nothing. Just listen. She will appreciate this more than anything you could say.
  • Hug her. It's comforting and will make her feel better.
  • Bring food. Even if she doesn't eat when you're there, she'll appreciate it when she's ready.
  • Offer understanding; remind her she's not alone, and others have been where she is and been okay.
  • It's not about you; even if you've had it worse, remember that right now, no one has it worse than she.
  • Say nothing about him. You might push her to defend him, which is not where she needs to be focused.
  • Let her cry. Everyone heals in their own time and their own way. Don't push. 
  • Check in with her. Just say hi. She'll feel like someone cares, which is a huge help.

Divorce is scary. No matter what stage of marriage your friend is in, she's lost everything. All the hopes and dreams she had for her future are gone. Every plan she made is ruined because they all included him. It's as if she's dead - but still alive to feel the pain. 

In her own time, she'll find the strength to start making new plans and new dreams. Your job is to support, not do it for her. You're simply there to give her some light while she finds her way.


  1. "It's good you didn't have kids," was what I heard most. Kids was all I wanted from the marriage, and a miscarriage was the single greatest contributing factor to it's break up. I managed not to hurt anyone, and I grew a goatee to discourage people from talking to me.

  2. Saying "it's good you didn't have kids" to me was rude and ignorant; saying it to you was just plain cruel. My least favorite comments were those that suggested I hadn't tried hard enough to repair the marriage (because I tried harder than most would) and that I couldn't survive on my own. In the end, I owe those people the biggest thanks because they forced me to prove to myself that I'm better than they (or I) thought.