Friday, July 13, 2012

What To Do For a Friend Going Through a Divorce

This is the second post in a three part series I am doing about Divorce.  (Because I love talking about divorce!)  I actually do in a weird way.  I think it is because for so long, I couldn't talk about what was going on my life and I am an open book.  I love that I can now discuss some of this stuff.

First, several people commented on my last divorce post and said that they hoped they had not said any of the wrong things to me and offended me.  No way!  I rarely get offended and I should have mentioned that when something is said in love, even if it is the wrong thing, it is okay.  I was so grateful to anyone who did say something to me.  I remember when I sent my cousin Liz an email telling her I was getting divorced.  A few minutes later she was knocking on my door.  She said "When you get an email like that, you don't respond, you come over."  It meant a lot to me.  Obviously, I haven't forgotten it.

Divorce is not something I knew much about when I got divorced.  I knew divorced people, but I never was close to anyone going through a divorce.  So my own was really my first taste of it.  I was overwhelmed with the thoughtful things people did and continue to do for me.  This is personal but when I got separated, I asked my dad to give me a Priesthood blessing.  He blessed me that others would step up and help me in various ways and help shoulder some of the burden of my divorce.  I have seen that come to pass over and over again.

One of the things that helped me the very most was when people brought dinner in.   Food is love.  Having a warm meal that someone else made just feels great. When you hear that someone is going through a separation or divorce, you don't usually think of bringing dinner.  That usually comes to mind if someone is  having a baby or surgery.  But when your heart is broken or you are going through something emotionally draining, the last thing you feel like doing is cooking for your family.   In the first little while after my separation, I spent a lot of time just sitting on the couch thinking.  It is a grieving process and I will forever be thankful for those friends who dropped off dinner during that time.

Along those same lines, I have a lady in my neighborhood named Linda who just happened to stop in and bring me flowers two years ago a few days after things started to fall apart with Sam.  She had no idea what I was going through but just felt like bringing me flowers from her yard.  She happens to be divorced and remarried.  I ended up confiding in her that night.  Since then, she and her amazing husband have been two of the most supportive, awesome people in my life.  They bring me flowers almost every week from their yard and are like second grandparents to my kids.  Steve was at my house today helping me with my sprinklers.  That's how they roll.  The give me hope that things will work out.  They have both been through divorces and came out happy on the other side.  I feel so lucky to know them.

Along with that, I was also grateful for my mother who came and took my kids away almost daily for a couple hours here or there.  It gave me time to think, go to the temple or sleep.  Often times, all I wanted to do was get in my bed and hide.  She gave me the time to do that and it was really therapeutic for me.  Other friends took my kids as well and it was a total gift.

My mom still drops off groceries to me and she does it for another friend of mine as well who recently got divorced.  I don't know anyone who doesn't have a change of lifestyle when they divorce.  Money is always going to be tighter.  And while I am very lucky that Sam is generous and I don't have to work, I do have to be really careful with my money.  Getting a bag of staples like flour, sugar, milk, choc chips, cereal is awesome and just one less thing I have to buy for my family.  (This is not a veiled attempt to get you all to drop off groceries to my house--haha--just trying to give you ideas for others!)

The photo at the top of the post is of me and my siblings, spouses and parents.  That was taken the other night when we all went to dinner. (Props to my dad for choosing to stand in front of that almost makes the photo look professional!) I think it is so important to have family support in a divorce.  I knew that my family believed in me and would always be in my corner.  So if someone in your own family is going through a divorce, please reach out to them and be kind and loving.  I had a little bit of a hard time that night because I drove to dinner alone and left alone while all of my siblings came and went with their spouses.  Stuff like that is hard.  It will probably be hard for a long time.  I may have even cried a bit on the way home.  But my family never made me feel weird during dinner that I was alone.  I am very lucky to have them.

I mentioned in my last post that it doesn't help to say "What can I do?"  because people will answer "Nothing."  It is hard to ask for help.  It is easier if someone just jumps in and does something.  My neighbor Doug informed me he was going to be taking care of my yard for the summer.  He mows, he weeds, he trims, he cuts down trees.  The guy walks on water in my book.  One night, I was talking to my kids about service and helping others and Luke brought up how Doug takes care of us by doing our yard.  I was so grateful that my kids have him as an example of Christlike service.  Doug is a bishop in a singles' ward and works full time.  The dude is busy.  But he does this for me out of the goodness of his heart.  It probably means more to me than anything else and I love that he jumped in and did it on his own.

Finally, I think one of the best things you can do is call your friend who is going through a divorce and ask how they are doing or write a note.  I have friends who listened to me on a daily basis for months as I sorted through the emotions of my divorce.  They convinced me that I was wonderful, beautiful, talented and that my divorce had nothing to do with me.  I will be forever grateful to those friends who made me believe in myself.  I also had many guy friends who did this for me or friends' husbands and sometimes it meant even more coming from a man.  I especially needed those calls at night after the kids were in bed because that is when the house was quiet and I would get lonely. 

Any other good ideas on what to do for someone going through a divorce?


gwen said...

Thanks for writing these Brooke. I love hearing what is helpful and what is not!

I had to laugh about chocolate chips being a "staple"...I feel the very same way! :-)

Love you!

Natasha said...

This is perfect. When I divorced so many people (even my own sisters) would say "i wish i could help..." and I wanted to scream, "you can! cook me some dinner, come bathe my kids so i can take a 20 minute break..." etc. etc. I think so many people wanted to help me but just didn't know what to do. I had to go back to work when my husband abandoned us and I had been home for 3 years so that was exceptionally hard. At that time a bunch of my friends chipped in and paid for me to get a nice salon haircut and also paid for my refridgerator in my new apartment. The haircut allowed me to do something nice for ME and the kitchen appliance...well, I was broke and their help with that was much appreciated. It was so nice that even though they had no clue what I was going through I really felt like they were all there for me in their own way.

The hardest thing for me was being ALONE. My ex didn't visit so I never had a break from my children except when I was at that new job that I hated. I would have loved for one of my sisters to offer to keep the kids for even an hour or two or to come play with them even while I was home so that I could have cleaned or made dinner etc without two very young children hanging on me.

Lauri said...

I tried to post on my computer and it didn't work.., trying again from my phone.

You continue to amaze me Brooke!! I admire you so very much, you are definitely a woman of integrity and faith! Love you!! coxo

Lauri said...

Happened again... xoxo!

Jill said...

It's so great that you're writing these posts. I can see where I have really failed my sister. I have sent you multiple notes and haven't sent any to her!

Holly said...

I thought you were going to say that about the picture. I noticed it - it was one of the hardest things for me (BTW, I have that same shirt you're wearing but in cream). I was in a totally different place when I got divorced so I didn't have the kid and lonely issue because I got to move in with roommates.

You are an amazing person!

sarahw said...

These divorce posts have such good advice. I feel bad I haven't done more for a close friend going through a divorce.

Groceries are like tires...I hate spending all sorts of money on them. Your mom is so kind to drop off groceries to you.

You are such an example to others out there. I am glad that you feel like you can be so open about it.

Also, your neighbor Doug is such a SAINT.

Ashley said...

I know you're not writing these to induce guilt or solicit groceries, but I have HATED that I have not been close enough to come take your kids. Luckily Mom is a hero in that regard. The one thing I can try to do is leave her alone and not burn her out so she can help you!

It also makes me sad that cried on the way home from Asian Star. The funniest is that we were all piled in in Mom and Dad's car so it wasn't as marital as you probably assumed. Still, we should have picked you up.

Doug seriously deserves a medal. Great post, great ideas, people never tire of the divorce material.

Kimmie said...

The awesome things is that Brookie is just the type of person who does these things for any one of us, no matter what the dilemma. She is one of the most kind, compassionate people I know....great example to me of pure love and kindness!!!

Rochelle said...

I just discovered your blog yesterday. WHERE HAVE I BEEN? HOW COULD I HAVE MISSED IT?? (Oh yeah, I was getting divorced, moving, shuffling my life around, burying my head in the sand…that’s what I’ve been focusing on)..But now that I’ve discovered your blog, I LOVE IT! I think I read almost every single post in the last 48 hours. Has anyone told you that you have a way with words that can touch anyone? And your kids r sooo cute!

Apparently, it's been a rough couple of years for a few of us in your neighborhood, and I was so busy w/ my own life, I missed the chance to help and support others around me.

Loved your posts about the big “D”, and seeing pictures of neighbors and friends. I love Linda (and Steve), she is the sweetest and gave me some of the best advice as I divorced and moved from the street. Doug is wonderful, and it doesn't surprise me that he's so helpful. I agree with so many things: Father's blessings are the best, family gatherings are fun but a little rough, phone calls late at night are great (especially when there is a “Say Yes to the Dress” marathon on TV and you can’t sleep), notes from friends letting you know you are still loved and are a wonderful person even though you failed at something are always a gift, and last but not least, super cold, 32 oz Diet Coke from the fountain is the best pick-me-up ever!

Linda said...

I am broken-hearted that you had to cry leaving the Asian Star. Ashley was right, we should've jammed you in the back w/ the others and driven you home! I think that because you are so strong and put on such a "good face," that people don't realize that it still hurts. (not always, but it is still there.) I am grateful to the wonderful neighbors, friends and family that have served, supported and lifted you up!

ChrisandSara said...

You are very strong and I love your advice. Great post I think that it is important for people to know what to do in cases like this. I know that in hard times when people don't know what to do they just do nothing. Hopefully your advice will help others in this same situation.

Elizabeth said...

This advice is so considered and helpful. You are amazing and I wished I lived closer so I could cook tea for you :-)

Molly said...

I had a friend who went through a divorce right when Graham was born. I still wish I had done more for her. She had a baby right at the same time. I have a hard time just calling people or stopping by, but I still wish I had done more. It's nice to read posts like this that remind us to just take charge and do something for our friends in need.

The Mostess said...

That Doug guy deserves a medal. I can tell he's golden, and I don't even know him.

Food is always good. They always say when people are grieving, they often forget to eat, or don't feel hungry. But if people drop food off, they realize that they're hungry. And I think we can all agree that food helps everyone feel better.

I like these posts because it makes me realize--like everyone else--that I should be more proactive. I will work on this down the line.

Love you!

Em said...

Such great advice. Sometimes I think of writing a note or something and then talk myself out of it thinking it's not needed or wanted or that I'm being pushy or that it's far enough out that the person is probably fine now. There is never a wrong moment to be kind and serve another person. Thank you for the reminder.

Liz said...

#1- I figured that pic was professional. All Warner pics look that way because you all are photogenic. Good job, Paul.

#2- Doug must be one of the 3 Nephites

#3- I'm touched to be mentioned. You are amazing and moving on well. I wish I was that put together!

Liz said...

Oh yes....and I want to know where you got that adorable shirt.

alexandra said...

This was great advice. I am sad that you have had such a rough couple of years but I love that you have had some people who have stepped in and supported you. I imagine that someday you will be like your neighbor Linda, happily remarried and bringing flowers and hope to another young mom going through a divorce.

D-dawg said...

Really really good posts Brooke. I feel bad it's taken me so long to get over here and comment but I think what you're doing is great!!!! I admire you.

Gaylynn said...

You don't know me, but I love your blog. I'm sure you hear that all the time, but for real... I do! My brother is Craig Findlay and my neice Laura turned me on to your blog. I am going through a divorce right now, not of my own choosing. You have a great talent for writing about true emotions. Thanks for doing helps!

shellybell said...

Love reading your blog! You're so down to earth and LOVE the me! I divorced 6 years ago and have since found love again and have been married to my awesome husband for almost 2 years. It was a very nasty divorce including infidelity on my 1st husbands behalf. Enough of that, but I couldn't agree more that just being there for a friend who is walking that path is the best medicine! I'd rather say something than say nothing at all! Hang in there're an amazing mom and what adorable kiddos! I acquired 3 new ones with my new life! So we now have two 13 year old boys, two 9 year old boys and a 7 year old girl! LOVE IT! Crazy how we each had a boy the same age and he blessed me with his little's fun!