How to Help People Going Through a Divorce

Navigating the death of a marriage.

Divorce is not something new to me. As I think back through my childhood, I clearly remember many of my friends’ parents getting divorced. In my mid-20s, two of my best friends, married for almost 10 years, split (as did each of their siblings, who were also friends of mine). Then two more friends … and two more.

I never thought my marriage would end. And while the news is still fairly fresh in the public eye, being separated and divorced is a reality I’ve been walking through for almost a year.

Because we chose to keep our private life private as we traveled that journey, only a small group of friends, people in our church, counselors and a few colleagues and pastors knew what we were going through. Reflecting over the last several months has awakened my analytical mind, and I’ve been intentionally processing how many of our relationships have changed, what’s added to the pain and what’s helped relieve it.

Some questions and comments I’ve frequently heard are:

“What advice do you have for friends going through a divorce?”

“Are there any resources you’ve found that have helped you, or that you’d recommend for me to help my friends?”

“I just don’t know what to do or what to say to them.”

“I don’t want to get in their business.”

Because these remarks occur on a daily basis, I thought it’d be best to share two thoughts with you—one on things that helped me and one on things that hurt.

Keep in mind, these are unique to me and every relationship is different, so please don’t assume I’m an expert by any stretch of the imagination.


Be there.

Just because you don’t know what to say doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say anything. In fact, most of the time it’s better you don’t say anything at all except to acknowledge what your friend is feeling is real (and is usually pretty rotten).

Here’s the catch: When a relationship is ending, especially a marriage, it physically feels as if your soul has been ripped out of your body. People going through this change will likely not have the strength to reach out to you. We will feel we’re a burden or that the only thing we have to talk about is how sad, angry, lonely or afraid we are. Most of us don’t want to be Debbie Downers, but we feel as if we epitomize that character in a season like this.

Not only do we not want to bring people down with us, we don’t have the strength to engage with others.

This is why it’s so important you reach out constantly to your friends. I’m an introvert and I tend to isolate myself when I’m going through a hard time. During the worst six months, I had friends texting, calling or emailing daily and at times willing to drive through snowstorms to pick me up and take me to the only open café in town with no agenda at all but to be with me. Sometimes we talked about the situation. Other times, we talked about music, or watched TV, or we didn’t even talk at all.

Knowing our friends are pursuing us helps remove the weight of loneliness that haunts us. And don’t worry; if you think you may be intruding or being overbearing, if we really need some time alone, we’ll let you know.


Don’t disappear or blow Jesus smoke.

Don’t ignore the situation. If someone reaches out to you to even make you aware of what’s happening, even if you have nothing to say back, just say you’re sorry. That is enough.

When I sent an email out to an expanded (but still small) group of friends and acquaintances, about 90 percent of the 50 or so people responded. The 10 percent who didn’t were people I had traveled with, shared stages with, signed books with, who had endorsed my books or I endorsed theirs. After no response from the email, or from the blog post that followed, or any acknowledgment whatsoever that they even received the information, I reevaluated my relationship with them. Sadly, many of the friendships I thought were based on mutual respect weren’t. They were simply relationships of benefit and circumstance. Coming to that realization hurt, and I had to make changes in the way I view those relationships now.

There is a medical term called body dysmorphic disorder that essentially means you believe something about your body image that isn’t true. For example, many people who struggle with eating disorders literally see their bodies as being significantly larger than they are in reality. For me, this has translated into an emotional association. I realize I don’t have actual leprosy, but I often feel like a leper; that I’m contagious, or unclean. I feel people need to stay on the other side of the road. And when friends disappear, it adds to this misconception.

Please don’t disappear.

Also, don’t assume that “ministry” or cliché “Christianese” will stitch up our bleeding hearts. Be Jesus. Don’t just talk about Him.

I recently received an email from a pastor who shared about a friend currently in the middle of a divorce: “My prayer is that he will wake up to this hurting world around him and engage,” he wrote.

I can only hope this pastor’s heart is in the right place, however, I wrote him back and explained to him the last thing we can do when we are this broken is to jump back into the world and “wake up and engage” and care for others—especially when our own pain is so new.

You Might Also Like

This is one of the times the church needs to “reach in and engage with the people around them who are hurting,” not the other way around as this pastor indicated.

Please keep in mind I don’t think this implies people going through a divorce should expect to be waited on hand and foot and maintain a completely selfish existence. By making our health and recovery a priority, we will naturally emerge back into a place where we can serve out of abundance—not pressure.


Be there for your friends. Grieve with them. Celebrate with them. Give them meals and hugs and hold them tightly. Don’t worry about having nothing to say. Pursue them. Pray for them. Love them. Constantly let them know you have their back.

Don’t fall off the face of the earth. Yes, it’s uncomfortable—for both us and you.

Anne Jackson is the author of Permission to Speak Freely: Essays and Art on Fear, Confession and Grace and Mad Church Disease: Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic and a frequent blogger.

Top Comments


FemmeFuel commented…

Love this line: "...dont assume that ministry or clich Christianese will stitch up our bleeding hearts. Be Jesus. Dont just talk about Him."

Thanks, Anne, for showing us how to navigate these waters. Divorce is becoming increasingly common in my circle of friends, and you gave me a glimpse on how to be a true friend during this season of heartbreak.




CSD commented…

This excellent article is about how to support someone going through a divorce not how to be opportunistic and wound with your judgements. Saying your piece about how wrong and sinful he/she is for divorcing is just an excuse to enact the righteousness-by-comparison deception you live by. The people who are going through divorce are well aware of why divorce is sinful and they are well aware of the extreme pain, so verbally pouncing on them will only serve to hurt them further. Go against your normal reaction and instead, reach out in love to that suffering Christian because truly that is what they desperately need during this terribly long, emotional-exhausting haul they are facing.


Garry Emry


Garry Emry commented…

Dr. UZOYA whose details are [] and {+13019098775} is the best love spell caster you can get online, there is know doubt about him, his spell is 100% sure that immediately after contacting him your relationship will be fixed and hence forth your relationship will be save and secured . i was once dumped by my lover for many months but immediately i contacted him my lover that dumped me for another man came back to me within 48 hours. i am telling you today that Dr.UZOYA whose details [] and +13019098775 is the best lover spell caster you can get as far as internet is concern.

Hansford Ann


Hansford Ann commented…

Am writing this article to thank Dr.Trust for the wondrous miracle that he did for me because he helped me recently to bring back my Ex husband. Thank you sir for your genuine spells. This is really incredible,I have never experienced anything like this in my life. Before i met you Sir, i have tried every probable means that i could to get my husband back, but i actually came to realize that nothing was working out for me, and that my husband had developed lot of hatred for me.. I thought there was no hope to reunite with my husband. But when i read good reviews about how Dr.Trust help others get back there ex lovers, make others to win big on lottery, cure of any sickness. I decided to give it a try and i did everything that he instructed me and i Trusted him and followed his instructions just as he guaranteed me in 48 hours, and that was exactly when my husband called me and come back to me.. I'm so happy for the good work you did for me. We are more contented now than ever. Everything looks perfect and so natural! Thank you so much Sir for your authentic and indisputable spells. Email him now for help { or} call +2348156885231 Web site Thanks Sir for your help.

Williams Artus


Williams Artus commented…

OMG! Thank you so much Dr. Trust for restoring back my Broken marriage for 4 years of total separation with my lovely husband because of her mistress who use a spell on him to abandoned me and our kids. i have contacted so many casters online several times but be scammed. i saw a testimony on the internet of one Juliana testifying of your good work, i contacted you which you assured me just 48 hours for an instant result. Sir just same 48 hours as you promise my husband came back home begging for forgiveness to love and cherish i and the kids forever, am so happy and thankful to you Dr. Trust,,,I am So Happy and Excited because as i am writing this Testimony, My husband is madly in love with me again. If there is any body Out there who is in Difficulties and need help should kindly Contact Dr. Trust on His Email ID and he is Ready to Help you no matter the Situation, or call /whatsapp him +2347059073543)

Mellodie Dwayne


Mellodie Dwayne commented…

After being in relationship with my husband for nine years,he broke up with me, I did everything possible to bring him back but all was in vain, I wanted him back so much because of the love I have for him, I begged him with everything, I made promises but he refused. I explained my problem to someone online and she suggested that I should rather contact a spell caster that could help me cast a spell to bring him back but I am the type that never believed in spell, I had no choice than to try it, I mailed the spell caster, and he told me there was no problem that everything will be okay before three days, that my ex will return to me before three days, he cast the spell and surprisingly in the second day, it was around 4pm. My ex called me, I was so surprised, I answered the call and all he said was that he was so sorry for everything that happened, that he wanted me to return to him, that he loves me so much. I was so happy and went to him, that was how we started living together happily again. Since then, I have made promise that anybody I know that have a relationship problem, I would be of help to such person by referring him or her to the only real and powerful spell caster who helped me with my own problem and who is different from all the fake ones out there. Anybody could need the help of the spell caster, his email is (LAVENDERLOVESPELL@YAHOO.COM } tel.+2347053977842) you can email him if you need his assistance in your relationship or anything.

Roxana Vera


Roxana Vera commented…

Am so excited to share my testimony of a real spell caster who brought my husband back to me. My husband and I have been married for about 11yrs now. We were happily married with kids, 5 months ago, I started to notice some strange behavior from him and a few weeks later I found out that my husband is seeing someone else. He started coming home late from work, he hardly care about me or the kids,He packout of the house to live with the woman and i strongly believe that she did some spell on him because even when i beg my husband to come back to me he refuse and went to live with her. I did all I could to rectify this problem but all to no avail. I became very worried and needed help. As I was browsing through the internet one day, I came across a website that suggested that Dr KALA is capable of solving marital problems, restore broken relationships and so on. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and and told him my problems and he told me what to do and i did it and he did a spell for me. 48 hours later, my husband came to me and apologized for the wrongs he did and promise never to do it again. Ever since then, everything has returned back to normal. I and my family are living together happily again.. All thanks to Dr KALA Powerful Love Spell that really works. If you have any problem contact him and i guarantee you that he will help you. He will not disappoint you. Email DR KALA at: KALALOVESPELL@GMAIL.COM or call and whatsapp him on +2347051705853

Please log in or register to comment

Log In