How to Help a Friend after Divorce

Linda M. Kurth

(Photo: Unsplash)

When a woman loses her husband after a divorce, many people feel at a loss as to how to help. 
​A close friend or relative has recently been divorced and is trying to adjust to her new circumstances. You know she’s going through a lot. Typically, when a woman loses her husband because of his death, people rush to provide casseroles for her. 

But when a woman loses her husband because of divorce, many people feel at a loss and end up doing next to nothing. Or worse … they abandon her altogether. Not only might she lose friends, but favorite in-laws whom she’s regarded as family may also depart. You’re a good friend and you want to support her. Here are some suggestion on ways you might be able to help.

  • Show up! Don’t know what to say or do? Bring her something to eat so make it simple like pizza and a salad. She may be on the “divorce diet” and not feel like eating much, but food is a great way of facilitating a conversation. Bring her a basket of luxury bath products so she can indulge herself. In her memoir How to Sleep Alone in a King-Sized Bed, Theo Nester tells of one friend who spent several nights sleeping next to her in that otherwise lonely big bed after the divorce.  
  • Listen, listen, listen. Your friend might be needing to process things out loud. Is she questioning herself for her decision to divorce? Is she wondering what she did wrong in her marriage? At the same time, don’t press her to tell all. Your non-judgmental listening and reassurance might be the most important help you can give her at this time. Humor may help, too. I’ll never forget my cousin’s response when I told her my ex had arranged for yard service after he left. “Jim’s generosity is like sending aid to Nicaragua, but not being willing to serve in the local soup kitchen on Thursday nights.” Her snarky comment lightened my mood considerably.
  • Let her trash her ex but don’t you do it. You might come across as implying your friend had used bad judgment in marrying the guy, or she might reconcile with him and then you’d be on the outs with them both. Accepting how she feels is the safest way to go.​


  • Provide reassurance. Show her you trust in her capabilities. At a family gathering, a relative told me: “You’re vivacious, charming, educated, capable, and talented. You’re going to be fine after you get over this little hump.” While I didn’t consider my divorce a “little hump” I appreciated the affirmation that I had good things going for me.​
  • Encourage her to get professional help but don’t press if she is resistant. Perhaps you or another friend has benefited from seeing a therapist, and you can share that experience as an encouragement. Do you know of a divorce recovery group nearby? Offer to accompany her to her first session.
  • Ask her! What does she need? Is it taking the kids for a while? Grocery shopping? Doing the laundry? Do what you can to lighten her load.
  • Help her with moving. If she needs to find a new place, offer to go with her as she looks. Help procure packing materials as well as doing some of the packing. I was able to find a place and arrange for a moving service, but my energy flagged when it came to packing. Friends and family showed up and helped finish. Then, they actually moved some of my things, saving me from a huge moving bill and more importantly, making me feel love and supported.
  • Lend your husband, boyfriend, or brother. There may be chores or repairs your friend needs done that she or you can’t do. I admit this one can be tricky. When I asked a male friend to help me with setting up my computer, his wife came along. It was clear to me she didn’t want me trying to seduce him, which I thought was hilarious. Realistically, though, newly divorced persons may be vulnerable to kindness by the opposite sex. I don’t recommend this “lending” to become a pattern. Perhaps your husband can teach her to help herself. Now that I’m remarried, I often lend my husband to the single woman across the street for her technical problems. (I trust both of them.) When we take ballroom dancing lessons, I lend him there too, remembering how I sometimes felt as a single person. 
  • Take her to a movie, dinner, or other entertainment. Give her a glimpse of fun times that await her in the future. Invite her (and her kids) into your home for a meal.​​
  • Take her to a movie, dinner, or other entertainment. Give her a glimpse of fun times that await her in the future. Invite her (and her kids) into your home for a meal.
  • If you and she belong to a group, be sure to encourage her to participate. She may decline at first, but continue to let her know she’s always welcome. 
  • Be especially mindful of important dates and holidays. Valentines Day can be especially hard. Find a way to let her know she’s loved by bringing her flowers, treats, or a sweet card. A long-distance friend sent me a birthday card full of affirmations: “God is leading you and there is a future. It’s bound to be blessed, because you know God more profoundly and personally, having been through tough times. My prayer for you is healing, hope, and wonderful surprises.” I began to look forward to those “surprises.” 
  • Hang in there with her. It might be tempting to swoop in and solve her immediate problems, then be gone. Remember, since it usually takes a while to recover from something as traumatic as a divorce, create a sustainable strategy that lets your friend know you are there for her when she needs you. (Pace yourself so you don’t get burned out.) A long-distance couple called me weekly over an extended period to check on me and let me know I wasn’t forgotten. I cherish them to this day.

I’m a firm believer in karma – what goes around comes around. Your friend is probably going through the most devastating experience of her life. Offering her support will likely mean everything to her. Hopefully you won’t have to go through a divorce yourself, but you may too need help from friends one day. Be grateful you are able to provide help for your friend now.

​Blessings on your journey,


Republished with permission from Linda M. Kurth from her blog at

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