Our previous article ‘The ‘D’ Word: Breaking the Internalised Shame Around Divorce’, talks about how to break the internalised shame around divorce. This article will highlight the importance of having a support system during this difficult transition, how vital it is for the recovery process. Going through a divorce can be exhausting, physically, mentally and emotionally, for everyone involved.
One is left with the feelings of loneliness, abandonment, betrayal, anger, resentment, confusion, moodiness, insomnia, fear and anxiety. It becomes very hard to know how to properly support someone going through the turbulence of emotions and if it happens to be a loved one, then it’s that much harder. Hence, it is imperative to surround oneself with supporting people.
What to know about being a support system for a person going through divorce?
As human beings, we are inclined to connect and belong. Having the right and supportive people around you can make all the difference. Here are a few reasons how strong support systems can help one to lead a positive life post divorce:
- Divorce is a difficult process in itself, but when the complexities like child support are added, it becomes a challenge. Having a good support system where one can express their emotions can lighten the load and lets them know that there are people to console them during their dark times. They wouldn’t feel like they are in this battle alone.
- Surrounding one with positive people can make it easier for them to let go, rather than being left alone, where they can harbour negative thoughts. Having little distractions and shifting one’s focus can help in overcoming the pain of divorce.
- Positive, good and strong support system may inspire one to heal and move on faster, help them emerge as a stronger individual after the trauma or ordeal. They will provide one with the motivation to get better.
- The notion that anyone can get over a divorce and move on with their life and find love again quickly is simply not true. It takes a long time to deal with the grief one goes through during divorce. Having people in one’s life who show love and encouragement can help in replacing grief with gratitude.
- When going through a divorce process, one is often left feeling lost and unloved. It is during this time that they need love the most. By showing love, even through small acts, can mean the world to them and make them feel wanted. Providing proper support can stop them from rushing into new relationships or rebound relationships to seek love or validation. Being there for them will help them nurture their emotions and allow themselves to be loved again, not only by others, but, most importantly, by themselves. Showering themselves with self-love and self-care.
- The most important benefit of having a good and strong support system is that they help in keeping one’s mental health intact. It is normal to feel self-doubt, guilt, anger, shame, depressed, anxious and scared before, during and after divorce. However, with the help, love and support of family and friends, one can acknowledge and start to let go of these feelings.
- Being part of a support system doesn’t mean that one should have all the answers. When a person going through divorce is sharing their experience or feelings, just simply sitting there and listening can make them feel like they are not alone and that they are not being judged.
- By directly or openly asking them if they need anything will let them know that they have a shoulder to lean on and that they don’t have to have a brave face on all the time or even pretend to be strong when they are not.
Things to avoid saying:
- Don’t invigorate them or give them a pep talk to pump or boost them up to make them happy temporarily. Allow them to express their emotions and understand their need to show or feel them.
- Don’t say things such as ‘look on the bright side’ or ‘everything happens for a reason’. This just invalidated their despair, their pain, their traumatic experience.
- Don’t tell them to ‘just get over it’ or just ‘snap out of it’.
- Don’t ask them to stop being ridiculous or dramatic sometimes people simply want to vent their emotions.
- Don’t disparage their spouse since they might still harbour positive feelings towards them and they could also be a co-parent. So, calling them lazy or a jerk might not be helpful.
- Don’t offer them vague forms of assistance by saying ‘if you need anything, i am here’ but rather provide them with some concrete offers of help like looking after their kid/s over the weekend or picking groceries for them or offering to drop off dinner.
- Don’t compare their experience with someone else’s who is also going through a divorce. You might want to make them feel like they are not alone. However, their experience is unique to them alone.
Who can be a support system during a divorce?
Finding the proper support system during divorce is vital for recovery, but how to find it?
- Family can be a good support system. It is not necessary to have a good relation with everyone in the family, however, confiding in trusted family members can provide one with moral and emotional support. Can you be that trusted family member?
- Other than family, friends are the ones who can provide the best support system during the difficult time. “Friends are the family you choose” is a popular saying. They can provide a shoulder to lean on and lend an ear anytime one feels like expressing their feelings. Are you a supportive friend? Have you been able to do what is needed to show up for a friend?
- The end result or goal of a support system is to help one move on, to get over the pain and grief brought on by the divorce process. Encourage the person going through divorce to seek professional support as well.
Getting through the exhausting, inconvenient and painful process of divorce can put a strain on one’s mental health and we are here to help. At Pause for Perspective, we have trained therapists who have had experience in working with couples who are seeking to either improve their relationship or considering a cordial separation or are already divorced and are looking for help to get through the emotional process of divorce. One might come across many people who will not understand their situation, hence it is important to choose one’s support system wisely.
This article is written by our writer Insha Fatima.