Divorce, of course, can be unsettling, even if the breakup was amicable and the reasons for the split appeared benign. And suppose you are witnessing a loved one go through the typical feelings connected with this tough chapter – sadness, fear, rage, and frustration – not to mention the lengthy legal proceedings. In that case, it is easy to feel useless or scared that you will say something wrong. However, what is most important is that you try. It is important to be there for them and, if needed, refer them to an experienced attorney to get divorce advice.
Hold space for them
We all deal with grief and transitions in different ways. And, by definition, divorce entails significant upheaval and loss. A divorcee will often be grieving their breakup with their spouse and marriage and the loss of the life they had imagined for themselves. They are dealing with a tremendous shift in their world and trying to make sense of it.
It is typical for people going through a divorce to act out of character or even go into a downward spiral as they try to digest everything. So, what can you do to help them get through this? Hold space for them. This can be done by:
Allowing them to work through their grief
Allow them time to express themselves and move through the phases of grieving. They may be ready to go through this experience openly by discussing it in a support group or by processing it all quietly.
Do not force them to move on, express anger, share, etc. There is no correct or incorrect way to grieve. Regardless of their approach, it is critical that you know (and accept) that whatever grieving looks like in practice for them may not look like grief for you, and that is okay. Respect their process.
Not shaming them for their mistakes.
As a human being navigating an extremely difficult era, they will almost certainly make some (perhaps many) blunders throughout their divorce and possibly even post-divorce. Some people may abuse alcohol or drugs. Some may lash out and harm relationships in their lives.
This may not be excusable or appropriate behavior, particularly if it is causing harm or negative effects on others, such as their children. However, if someone you care about makes a mistake during their divorce, you should try to keep your judgment in control and show them compassion.