Written by our resident advice columnist
Dear One Love,
My best friend’s parents are going through a divorce and she’s really upset. I’ve been trying to help her by trying to take her mind off of it but it’s all she seems to want to talk about. I don’t know what to do. I’ve never been through anything like this and I don’t know what to say to make it better. What should I do?
– Distractions Not Working
Dear Distractions Not Working,
If there was a list of the top ten worst things you could experience like ever, I’m pretty sure divorce would be among the top five. It’s not as bad as that time you showed up to lecture hall late with coffee stains on your shirt and stinky armpits only to realize your final presentations are due and you left yours at home. Still, divorce is pretty bad and it would take a number of equally awful things to happen at once to even compare, no matter how woke or conscious the uncoupling.
When something makes your friend miserable of course you want to take their mind off of the issue, but here’s a little secret. No matter how long you juggle balls or slay literal dragons, it’s not going to take their mind off of their parent’s divorce for long. I’m not saying your efforts are frugal, trying to make your friend feel better in your own way is an honorable endeavor. But right now, giving them a safe space to feel all the feels is all they need. Some days that may mean being a shoulder for them to cry on and other days it might look like being on the phone even if they aren’t saying much.
Basically what I’m saying is, “I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I’m here if you want to talk or not talk,” goes a looooooooooong way.
Keep showing up but don’t forget to take care of yourself. Supporting a friend through a difficult time can take a lot out of you if you aren’t properly taking care of your own needs and boundaries. You can check out the signs of compassion fatigue, a type of stress that involves “physical and emotional depletion” as a result of “caring for someone in significant emotional or physical distress,” here.
Remember: you can’t pour from an empty cup!
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