In a way, a divorce is like a death. Though nobody has actually died, divorce is the end of a marriage, so it can turn the spouses’ lives upside down. The emotions this causes can feel similar to grieving. Indeed, it is natural to mourn the loss of a relationship that you once thought would last forever, even if you were the one who asked for the divorce.
So there will likely be times during and after the divorce that you will feel depressed, frightened, lost or just feel like crying. Your friends will want to help, but may not understand what to do. Instead of validating your feelings, which is what many people dealing with divorce want, they may try to “fix” things by giving you unwanted advice.
According to Huffington Post, here are five things not to say to someone depressed about their divorce:
1. “Don’t feel bad.” It’s impossible to banish a feeling like this, and saying this rarely makes anyone feel better.
2. “You can replace your ex.” The divorced person may date again eventually, but nobody can “replace” someone who used to be in your life.
3. “You’ll be fine.” While well-meaning, this can sound to the divorced person like another way of invalidating his or her feelings.
4. “Give it time.” Not as good as saying you are here to help for the long haul.
5. “Try keeping busy.” Distracting yourself with work does not make grief go away, it only masks it.
So, what do you say to a divorcing friend? The article suggests emphasizing that you recognize what your friend is feeling, and that you are available to listen, even if your friend must go over what happened several times.