15 Things TO SAY To Your LDS Divorced Friend

“I’m getting divorced.”

“He left me.”

“She doesn’t want to be married anymore.”

Statements like these can come from anyone. 50% of marriages end in divorce. Those statistics may not be as staggeringly high within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but they are still high. You know someone who has experienced a divorce or you will eventually. In that moment when they’ve confided in you about their darkest days, there are some key phrases almost all Latter-day Saint divorcees need to hear.

“I’m here for you.”

Often, the individual needs nothing more than just knowing they aren’t alone. They don’t want advice, consoling words, empty words of sympathy, or fake support. We want to know that we have people to lean on, when we feel like we’re about to drown. This can look like a variety of things for a variety of people but it’s up to you to ask your friend for details.

“What do you need from me?”

Be specific and direct in what they need. Ask them what you can do for them. We are commanded in the scriptures to comfort those that stand in need of comfort. Your divorced friend needs comfort, compassion, and commitment. Show up for them. If they don’t know what they need from you, the best thing is to check in often with them, even daily if you can. They won’t get annoyed, I promise, even if they don’t respond.

“Have you eaten today?”

When my husband left, I couldn’t eat. For two weeks, the only thing I survived on was cheddar sour cream Ruffles and Diet Coke. It meant so much to me when people asked me about the basic of my needs: food and sleep. I would have never starved myself, but as a person with poor stress-eating habits, it felt good to know someone was thinking of those things. Even if they can’t eat, help them get SOMETHING into their system, even if it’s just water.

“Good morning. I hope you have a great day.”
Your friend is probably used to waking up every day to their spouse greeting them in some way, shape, or form. They are used to someone letting them know they mattered. Sometimes, when you experience a divorce, it can be hard to face every morning feeling like you are alone in the world. Help your friend know that you are there for them every day.

“I believe you.”

Marriage was a huge choice to make in our lives and now it “failed” (side note: divorce is not inherently a failure). We feel like we can’t even trust ourselves to make any kind of choice so how can others trust us. But hearing it from our friends instills in us a confidence that we may be lacking. Trust your divorced friend fully by letting them speak, make decisions, and heal in their own timeline. Tell them, “I trust you.” I can’t count the number of times I thought I was making things up in my own head with all the manipulation happening. Divorce can happen frequently because of abuse or mistreatment. If someone says that they’re hurting and that bad things happened, believe them.

“You don’t have to be ok right now.”

Give. Them. Permission. To. Feel. We can’t emphasize that enough. Create a space for them to be angry, sad, or hurt. Our society has a bad habit of making people feel like they can’t feel negative emotions or that in order to be a good Latter-day Saint, you have to not feel anger. Divorce brings out all sorts of emotions and what your friend needs right now is a space to feel.

“I saw this and thought of you.”

Quotes, photos, music, a funny YouTube video from a friend help remind you that you aren’t alone. It can be hard to put into words what we you want to say to your LDS divorced friend so sometimes quotes from the scriptures or General Conference can give you the words to say. Follow the Spirit’s promptings and send them anything and everything. They might not respond but they still know you are there for them.

“Can I take you to lunch” / or “Can I come see you?”

Some people going through a divorce need all the attention and support, others want everyone to leave them alone. You’ll need to ask your friend before assuming things. What this says to those experiencing a divorce is, “You matter enough to me that I will take time out of my day and spend money on you.” We feel like we don’t matter so this kind of gesture helps a ton.

“I put your name in the temple.”

It’s an extra way of letting them know you were thinking of them. You don’t know what kind of blessings they need, but God does, and when you put their name on the temple prayer roll, it can be a sign of faith for your friend. We forget to pray for ourselves sometimes so it’s nice to be shown that other people are praying for us.

“You can cry.”

My goodness please let your LDS divorced friend cry. Science and research, has shown that crying relieves built up emotions. We need help knowing that it’s ok for us to cry, and that you won’t judge us if we become a sopping wet pile of emotional outbursts. Crying lets the sad out of you to make room for the happy.

“Talk to me about it.”

Encourage your friend to express openly, and without judgement, what they need. LDS people have this weird cover where the struggle to open up because we are commanded to be happy and positive all the time so we don’t want to feel like a burden to other people. Let them know that you will listen to them without advice and just try to let them talk.

“You are not a burden.”

Divorce breaks our world down and the best kind of people step up. We are constantly floored by the kindness, service, and patience we are shown by people. So much so that we begin to feel like we don’t deserve the love and outpouring of compassion we receive. Let your LDS divorced friend know that they are not a burden, ever, ever, ever. They might not believe it but your job is to repeat it to them.

"What are you feeling right now?”

If you yourself struggle to know how to address big emotions, might I suggest using an emotion wheel to walk your friend through the emotions? You don’t have to be a therapist to use it. (Use this one) Help them identify, name the emotion. Whatever you do, don’t place judgement on what they are feeling.

"Why …”

When I say ask them about “why” I mean help them dig deeper into what they are feeling. If they say “I feel unclean” ask them “why.” If they say “I am a loser,” ask them “Why would you feel like that?” Help them explore all aspects of their emotions and their experience. Why is an open ended question that helps your LDS divorced friend find their own healing through their own words.

“I care for you.”

Hearing the words, “I love you” after a divorce is a strange phenomenon. Your friend doesn’t trust you when you say that because the person that they had heard that from the most, aka their spouse, has just left their life. They don’t believe in love, romantic, friend, or family. Love is a bitter word in their mouth. However, the word “care” is softer, more committal, and implies that you are looking out for their well being. They know you love them, but they need to see it more than hear it.

It’s amazing that you want to help your friend. The biggest support you can give them is being there. Talk to them, laugh with them, cry with them, and ensure them that this is a trial that they can get through.

You might also consider buying your friend a copy of Life Goes On. We send personalized messages to each of our customers so they can know that they are always loved. Your friend could benefit from a gift from you.

I hope you learned something from this blog post to help those in your life that may experience a divorce.