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Ways to help a friend going through a separation?

(18 Posts)
Oneaddoneisthree Thu 13-Mar-14 01:25:05

Posting here as I know that sadly there are others going through the same and also some wise people in general.

My lovely friend recently kicked her DH out after 30 years together when she found out about a long affair. Obviously she was devastated and the last few months have been horrendous for her. I am so proud of how strong she is.

She has talked a lot about her feelings but also seems to want to put on a brace face and most people would think she is doing well. I can see how thin and tired she looks but she doesn't like asking for help. Is there anything I can do? I have told her many times that she can call on me for anything, anytime. I also however know that she has had issues with people offering "help" in ways that she just finds interfering, so I want to be careful.

Any advice appreciated. Thanks.

Oneaddoneisthree Thu 13-Mar-14 01:42:37

Brave face, that should say, obviously.

RawShark Thu 13-Mar-14 06:37:18

Maybe help by doing friend things -just suggest meals or drinks out or at yours (so she can talk or you can have fun).frequency will depend on you and your friendship. bet she can't be arsed to eat properly at the mo.

AFishCalledBarry Thu 13-Mar-14 06:42:57

Based on personal experience:
1. Listen and validate her feelings. Allow her to feel it's ok and totally normal to be sad, angry etc
2. Don't bitch about her ex. That's her job.
3. Feed her
4. Bring her flowers, let her know you're happy to just sit quietly with her and listen when she needs to talk.

You sound lovely thanks

Oneaddoneisthree Thu 13-Mar-14 07:45:20

Thank you both of you.

I think I've been doing lots of number 1 on that list, so that's good to know. Sometimes she doesn't want to talk and we've been going for long walks without saying much.

I did once call her ex an idiot in a moment of anger and sadness for her. I then apologised but she said it was ok.

Feeding her is difficult - she's just not interested but I've had some success with little cakes and treats more than proper meals. One of her neighbours has been popping in a lot with dinners for her and for some reason she finds this annoying - possibly because they don't know each other that well and the woman tends to ask a lot of questions!

As time goes on I guess we will manage more fun nights out etc so I will make a mental note to suggest this quite often.

breaking2bad Thu 13-Mar-14 07:46:57

First of all can I say I wish I had a friend like you when I was going through my separation.

I would really have liked my friends to have been there for me. I would have liked them to have made suggestions for things to do, like how do you fancy doing xyz. Let's put some fun thins in the diary. If I wanted to do something with my friends I found that it was on their terms.

I second not bitching about the ex. I also think confirming to her that she did not deserve what's happened to her and that she is a lovely person. I also think being positive is a good thing to be, like you will get through this and find happiness.

My friends never deep down appreciated how finding out that the love of your life was screwing someone else makes you feel. They never said that it's hard now but things will get better. I know they will and I'm coming out the side but I just wish they would have helped.

Oneaddoneisthree Thu 13-Mar-14 07:53:06

Thank you, breaking2bad. To be honest I can't imagine how if feels to go through what she has, I just feel so heartbroken for her. I tell her how strong I think she is, but I don't want her to feel like she always has to be strong iyswim. We talk about how what happened was nothing to do with her and her value as a person and I think she knows that despite still feeling incredibly hurt.

I do ask her what she would like to do but she is finding making choices difficult and I think sometimes wants me to just decide, but I'm not sure.

Oneaddoneisthree Thu 13-Mar-14 07:54:25

Also glad to hear that you feel you are coming out of the bad times breaking2bad.

littleballerina Thu 13-Mar-14 07:54:41

Just be there when she needs you.
My friends left me when I needed them the most.
You sound lovely.

Oneaddoneisthree Thu 13-Mar-14 07:57:18

That's really awful littleballerina. So sorry to hear that. It's hard to know what people need and people also find it hard to ask for help I think, but at the same time it's pretty obvious that you need friends at times like that, you would think.

breaking2bad Thu 13-Mar-14 08:00:25

By the sounds of it she's at the really low phase of recovery. I think this is the part where friends play a part but ultimately you have to achieve certain things yourself. This is when I sought help via counselling. Does she work? Sometimes employers will fund it.

breaking2bad Thu 13-Mar-14 08:01:35

Little ballerina - I'm glad I'm not the only one who had unsupportive friends. A year on from my seperation and they feel, at times, like strangers to me.

AFishCalledBarry Thu 13-Mar-14 08:09:58

Oh and by the way, it is a really difficult position to be in, because when you're going through a separation like this, your wants and needs seem to change like the weather (and you oftne don't know what you want or need), so being the friend trying to say and do the right thing isn't always easy!

I only had one 'friend' there for me during my break-up and in hindsight she was absolutely the worst possible person I could have had there with me.

Oneaddoneisthree Thu 13-Mar-14 08:17:20

Yes, she works. I've been amazed at how she just gets on with it at work - I think I would have gone to pieces in the same position - but she says it's been good for her to have that escape.

I've noticed that she does contradict herself quite a bit regarding what she wants and feels.

In what way was your friend not helpful afishcalledbarry if you don't mind me asking?

AFishCalledBarry Thu 13-Mar-14 08:37:44

She bitched about my ex (having barely known him so it was purely based on all my outpurings) and basically commented on every single thing I said which was entirely unnecessary. I felt huge pressure to do things her way. My ex had been emotionally abusive and controlling in a very subtle way. It turned out she was also incredibly controlling and, looking back, I wasn't able to go through the whole process in my own way and at my own pace. DD and I stayed at hers for a week while I was waiting for ex to move out of our house and I just ended up slipping into her way of doing everything, becoming totally reliant on her to guide me. I'm probably not making an awful lot of sense, but I was vulnerable and very easy to manipulate.

Coelacanth Thu 13-Mar-14 08:38:50

Things my friends did that helped me:

Listened and didn't didn't judge any of my actions (even though I realise now some of them were mildly silly)

Texted me just to say "we're here" if I didn't contact them for a while

Invited me to dinner (to make sure I ate) and chose carefully who else was there

Did practical stuff with me/for me

Made tea when I needed it/bought wine when I could stomach it

Just told me over and over that it was not my fault and I would survive and live a happier life.

You're doing what she needs already and you're a great friend to her OP.

AFishCalledBarry Thu 13-Mar-14 08:38:54

Oh and I felt very much that I just had to get on with it. No 'dwelling' or 'moping' allowed hmm

Oneaddoneisthree Thu 13-Mar-14 08:51:29

I can see how that would happen afishcalledbarry - she took control which was not what you needed. My friend is getting on with things pretty well on the surface but I feel like she doesn't want to be seen to be moping, and I want her to know it's ok to do that when she needs to.

Coelacanth thanks for the tips - I think reminding her that I'm here if she needs me will be important in the future too, when she might feel like she's supposed to be "over it" by now. I tell her she's amazing and beautiful and she squirms and tells me to shut up grin

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