When a friend’s relationship breaks down, it's challenging to know what to say to someone going through hard times. Everyone suffers from loss differently. It’s impossible to predict how anyone will react to news of a divorce.
For some, divorce is a welcome end to a marriage that isn’t working. For others, it can be the most devastating experience they’ll ever go through.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- What Can You Say to a Friend Going Through a Divorce?
- What Can You Do For a Friend Going Through a Divorce?
Many types of grief reactions resulting from divorce include fear, confusion, and pain. If you don't know what to say to a friend going through divorce, keep reading to find some suggestions that may help you support them through this challenging time in their life.
What Can You Say to a Friend Going Through a Divorce?
Going through a divorce can seem like the end of the world for some. Divorce destroys the hopes and dreams accompanying entering into a marriage. More than any advice, your friend needs a shoulder to lean on and someone to listen.
Just as important as what you say to your friend going through a divorce, is what you don’t say. Try lending support by offering your perspective on the situation without bashing or criticizing their actions or their partner. Encourage them in some situations or areas where it seems that your friend has lost hope.
Here are some things you can say:
1. “I know it’s hard on you now, but it won’t always feel this way.”
You can alleviate the sometimes excruciating pain and heartbreak that often accompanies divorce by reminding your friend that things will not always be this way.
When you feel the devastation of losing your spouse to divorce, it’s easy to lose sight of what comes next. In a few weeks, your friend will hopefully start to feel better, and the intense pain may slowly begin to lift.
2. “I’m sorry things ended for you two.”
Supporting your friend by expressing your condolences lets them know that you acknowledge their pain and suffering.
There isn’t a lot you can say to help mend your friend’s relationship with their spouse, but you can tell them how sorry you are that their marriage didn’t work out.
3. “Do you want to talk about it?
You don’t need to be a professional counselor to offer your friend face-to-face talk therapy. Grab a couple of pints of ice cream and head over to their house for a night of crying, bingeing, and talking about everything they want to get off their chest.
4. “Let’s go grab dinner and a movie like old times.”
It helps to remind your friend of what life was like when they were single. Going out on a friends’ date night is a fun way of getting their mind off of the pain of their divorce. It won’t fix all their problems, but it can help strengthen the bond of friendship between the two of you.
5. “Do you need a place to stay?”
When a couple is divorcing or is newly divorced, finances may not allow for them to move into separate households, especially when they’ve signed a joint lease or mortgage.
Ask your friend if they need a temporary place to stay while they sort out their finances and living arrangements.
6. “In the end, everything’s going to be okay.”
No matter how many romantic heartbreaks you suffer in life, in hindsight, there’s always a silver lining to every cloud.
You may not think so when you’re going through it, but every breakup or end to a relationship opens the door for something new or better to come along.
7. “Let’s have a day out. Just the two of us.”
Invite your friend to spend the day with you for some fun and togetherness. Plan out an entire day for just the two of you.
When you’re out, stop by for some window shopping to get some ideas of what makes a great small gift for your friend that’ll cheer them up. You don’t have to go overboard on your spending. A small token of appreciation that says thank you for being a friend is enough to brighten their day.
8. “You’re a wonderful person.”
When dealing with divorce, sometimes it’s nice to get a reminder that you’re a worthy individual capable of giving love and being loved. Divorces sometimes tend to get nasty, with divorcing couples hurling insults at one another.
Remind your friend of the beautiful person that they are despite what they’re going through. A sincere compliment can do wonders for a person’s self-esteem, especially when they may be feeling worthless and incapable of being loved.
9. “You’re wonderful, and you’re loved.”
Remind your friend that they’re a wonderful person and that they are loved no matter the circumstances.
These encouraging words can change their outlook on life and their current situation. It can take them from a state of depression to one of hope for the future.
10. “Do you need to see a lawyer?”
When asking your friend if they need to see a lawyer, it can complicate your relationship with them.
You may seem too eager for them to end their marriage, or that you don’t support them in their relationship when you suggest getting a lawyer. On the other hand, they may not be able to afford a lawyer or may feel intimidated in having to look for one.
11. “Let me recommend a therapist if you need one.”
Explain to your friend the benefits of seeing a therapist. You may even consider recommending a marriage counselor so they can try to work through any remaining issues before their divorce becomes final.
What Can You Do For a Friend Going Through a Divorce?
Sometimes words alone aren’t enough to support your friend who’s going through a divorce. They may need you now more than ever as they try and cope with the emotional rollercoaster that usually accompanies a failed marriage.
Try some of these tips to show your friend support:
12. Show up
When your friend’s marriage has failed, show up when they need you to be there. Keep showing up for them even when they say they’re okay or that they can handle things on their own.
13. Lend an ear
Try and remain present even when you’ve heard the same story for the tenth time in the last two hours. Your friend may need you just to sit there and listen to them while they try to make sense of why their marriage failed.
14. Remain neutral
Try and avoid bashing your friend’s spouse or former spouse. You may inadvertently create some resentment and hurt feelings if you toss in your personal opinion regarding their spouse.
It may be that they end up working through their problems, and your comments may create a wedge in your friendship.
15. Give your support
Supporting your friend whose going through a divorce is not only listening to them and offering advice when asked for or needed. Another way of showing your support is by remaining open to helping your friend in different ways that they may need your help.
For example, your friend may be feeling down and in need of a boost in their self-esteem. If you find this to be the case, run out and pick up some self-care items that may help them get a temporary external boost, such as a face mask, some makeup, or other items to help your friend look and feel their best.
16. Help with the move
Moving day can be physically draining and emotionally exhausting. Offer to help your friend move when the time comes. If you have a truck or other moving equipment, offer it to them if needed.
Even if all you can do is help move a few boxes, they’ll remember your desire to help.
17. Offer to babysit
Your friend and their spouse may need some time alone to work out their divorce issues.
Offer to take the children for a weekend to give them the space they need to discuss important matters without the fear of the children accidentally hearing the details of the divorce.
18. Bring some food
A person who is grieving may end up forgetting to eat. Cook a few meals for your friend and bring them over so that it’s easy for them to reheat and eat. If their spouse is still at home, include extra meals for them as well.
Even though they may be at odds, you don’t want to make matters worse by showing favor to your friend while ignoring their spouse. Read our suggestions for freezer-friendly sympathy meals for some ideas.
19. Help take stock
Whenever a couple divorces, there’s usually a need for them to take inventory of all of their major purchases and belongings they’ve accumulated during the marriage. Volunteer to meet your friend over a weekend to take stock of everything in the house that needs splitting.
20. Encourage and uplift
Help your friend make this transition as smooth as possible by encouraging and uplifting them every moment you can.
Try not to gossip about their spouse or point out all the reasons why they should get a divorce.
21. Point out the positives
There are positives in every bad situation. Try to point out all the positive outcomes that can stem from divorce without bashing their marriage or spouse.
Remind them of all the things they wished they could do but couldn’t because they were in a marital relationship, and then encourage them to pursue them.
Supporting Your Friend During Divorce
A friend who’s going through a divorce needs your support now more than ever. The divorce process is not only financially and emotionally draining, but it can also leave all involved parties feeling lost and destroyed.
Post-loss tip: Divorce is certainly not the only painful event that causes grief. If you are the executor for a deceased loved one, the emotional and technical aspects of handling their unfinished business can be overwhelming without a way to organize your process. We have a post-loss checklist that will help you ensure that your loved one's family, estate, and other affairs are taken care of.