Seeing a friend through a divorce can bring up many of one’s own related struggles.
If you experienced divorce yourself as a child or now as an adult, it can transport you back to that moment. Indeed, you may even project onto your friend thinking this is a shared experience.
It is always important to remember that each and every divorce is as unique as the individual. Regardless of one’s own experience or the understanding of the impact of divorce as played out in the media, in movies, or though family and friends; everyone experiences divorce differently.
Therefore, in offering support, suspend judgment. Suspend your thoughts on what may have transpired and suspend advice. Instead, just listen.
Never Stop Listening:
By lending an ear, you are likely to hear a version of events on a one-sided basis. Even if the person blames themselves, it remains a one-sided perspective and does not necessarily reflect any objective truth. However, it is currently your friend’s view of the situation… and all you have to do is listen.
In listening you are being there as both emotional support as well as a sounding board. Your friend’s words will rebound off you so that they can hear themselves speak. With that, they may come to other thoughts and views on what has transpired. It allows them to think things through out loud.
While it is natural to want to do more than just listen, be mindful not to rush in with what you think may be of service. Instead, ask your friend, “What can I do to be help you through this?”
Before responding, consider what is being asked and if you can meet the expressed need.
You will have to determine if the request places you in an awkward position. Are you being asked to take sides? Or are you being asked for emotional support and guidance? Know the limits of your own knowledge and experience and promote the use of those whose expertise may be of better service.
As a friend, the challenge is to “hold space,” which means being there in such a way that your friend feels safe and secure in sharing with you their pain, sorrow fears and hopes.
With that we create the opportunity for them to process their experience and heal.
Now that’s a good friend.
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