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Want to help someone going through a divorce? Do this

It's hard to know what to do when someone you care about is going through a divorce. You may want to help -- but at the same time be afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Fortunately, a lot of folks have been down this road before and they have advice they're willing to share. This is what you need to do:

1. Be supportive.

This is actually tricky because "support" often gets confused with "agreement."

Support means telling your friend that he or she is strong and able to get through this period of life. It does not mean agreeing with your friend's assessment of his or her spouse.

In fact, it's dangerous to jump on your friend's bandwagon at the moment and reveal that you always hated his or her choice of a mate the moment the divorce is announced. Your friend's mood may shift abruptly and he or she could try to reconcile. If that happens, your friend may feel like you are judging him or her.

2. Be inclusive.

One of the hardest things your divorcing chum has to handle is being a "single" again when he or she is used to automatically having a partner.

Open your heart and your door and make sure that your friend is invited along with you wherever you're going. Don't worry if he or she is going to be the only single person among a crowd of couples -- that matters a lot less than being set adrift by the people that you know.

3. Don't force anything.

If your friend needs someone to listen, listen. Don't talk about your own marital problems or divorce. Let your friend get out what he or she needs to get out right now. There will be time to compare notes later. Also, if your friend needs to just exist in companionable silence, let him or her do so. Your friend will start talking when he or she is ready.

Divorce has a way of making everyone feel uncomfortable -- but remember that your friend is probably feeling the worst right now. Anything you can do to show your unconditional love for your friend will help.

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