There are certain situations when you don’t know what to say. Finding out that your friend is going through a divorce can be one of those situations.
I personally experienced this when I was going through my divorce. None of my friends seemed to know what to say to me. So, I thought I would offer a little help.
The most common response about someone divorcing seems to be “I’m sorry.” However, saying you’re sorry assumes the divorcing person is upset or sad about their divorce. A lot of times, that’s not the case. A divorce can be a relief or even a happy occasion. For that reason, try not to say you are sorry unless you are certain that the divorce is a sad and unwelcome occasion.
Another typical response is “congratulations.” This can be a pretty risky response. Even if the person seems thrilled about their divorce, congratulating someone about the end of a relationship, and often the severing of a family unit, can sound harsh and might be perceived as obnoxious.
A third response is the sarcastic “good luck.” This is usually followed by horror stories about the dysfunctional dating world that awaits the newly divorcing person. Try to stay away from sarcastically wishing the divorcing person good luck; no one needs your bad attitude.
Overall, divorce tends to be an event filled with mixed emotions — happiness, sadness, anger, loss, and everything in between.
For that reason, making a remark that covers one extreme or the other is risky. Instead, seek out the middle ground.
Your best bet when you don’t know with absolute certainty how the divorcing person feels, or if you want to play it safe, or if you just want to be kind, is the following: “I’m here for you.”
It’s that simple. You can leave it at that or use those four words as a starting point.
“I’m here for you; call me if you want to talk.”
“I’m here for you; let’s go to the bar.”
“I’m here for you.”
Letting the divorcing person know that they have someone to turn to when they need to talk, cry, or celebrate is a great feeling.
When in doubt be sensitive to the feelings of others. Remember, kindness counts, and it’s free.