To be perfectly honest, when I first separated from my husband, I didn't want anyone to acknowledge the situation with gifts or helpful advice. Instead I wanted to crawl into a deep, dark hole and disappear for awhile.
In addition, a lot stuff married people were saying to me out of concern and love I just tuned out and heard, "blah, blah, blah," because listening to their views and advice felt like nails on a chalkboard. I already felt inadequate enough, and I didn't need anyone telling me where my husband or I went wrong. I just needed the space to heal.
We all have a desire to give and receive love differently. If you've arrived at this blog because you want to ease your friend's pain stemming from a breakup or divorce, you might first read a brief summary of Gary Chapman's book The Five Languages of Love by clicking here and start a dialogue with your friend concerning how best to show her love during this time.
I recommend asking your friend if she wants your help and if so what kinds of things would make her feel loved and cared for. Some women might feel incredibly nourished by gifts meant to show your care and concern while others might want to be left alone to lick their wounds in private. Some women may want to heal in solitude while others want to be distracted by a night of dancing or a funny movie. Other women may need you to give them hugs, listen to them cry in silence, or offer words of encouragement.
Don't be afraid to ask. In fact, I think anyone suffering a loss would appreciate this kind of conversation because it allows her to make choices about her life in a situation that may feel outside of her control. More importantly, a woman going through a breakup or divorce is experiencing rapid change, so what she may feel and want one day might be radically different in a week or two. So keep checking in with your friend to find out where she is at in her grieving process and try to see her afresh every day.
The most important question to ask yourself is this: "Am I trying to cheer up, heal, or fix my friend because I'm uncomfortable with her pain, and I want it to go away. Or am I truly giving her something I know she wants?"
Here are some possible questions to start a conversation with your friend:
- Do you want to talk about the breakup or would you rather chat about something else?
- Would it help to go out and have some fun or do you want to stay home and be alone?
- Is there anything I can give you that would help you feel more loved and cared for right now or would this feel overwhelming?
- Do you want me to reassure you how much I love you or do you just want me to listen in silence?
- Are you seeking advice about your situation or do you just want me to be a supportive presence and keep my ideas to myself?
- Is there anything I can help you with or do you just need me to let you do things in your own space and time?
If you discover your friend would appreciate some care taking in the form of gifts, special indulgences, positive words of affirmation, or quality time here are some ideas:
Gifts to Buy or Make
Chocolate and wine
Homemade cookies or treats
Lotion or fragrant soap
Gift certificate for a massage
Guided meditation CD
Letter from you
Book of entertaining fiction
Book of daily devotionals
Something huggable or a warm comfy blanket
Class registration for her favorite hobby
Gift certificate to her favorite supply shop (knitting, jewelry, cooking, gardening, sewing, etc.)
Makeup (lipstick, nail polish, etc.)
Favorite bag of coffee beans
Treats for her cat or dog
Book of poetry
Things to Do
Manicure or pedicure
Shopping trip for a new outfit
Coffee and conversation
Walk or hike
Day at the beach
Trip to the museum
Visit to the ice cream or chocolate shop
If your friend is experiencing a breakup, separation, or divorce, you may choose to send them information about my FREE ebook Divorce Care Package, which offers tools and ideas for helping women through the process of letting go of a love relationship.