Her world just fell apart ... and she needs you more than ever.
Word of advice for all you BFFs with a friend whose husband is a cheat: Don’t be like my friend who called me on Thanksgiving, just six weeks after my ex confessed to cheating. He packed up his whiskey and his PlayStation and left, and she reached out to him to see how he was doing. Uh, W.T.F.
Even if you choose to remain friends with your friend's ex, right now she just needs to hear you agree he was an a**. This isn't the time for "peace and love." Plain and simple, indulge in the b*tchfest for a minute.
The first few nights of sleeping alone in the bed where my husband had been for 17 years was surreal. I slept next to a lump of his clothes for months; until I started bringing home strangers to validate me as a female — but that’s another story.
1. Keep her company on those first few nights when she’ll be alone.
Her life has changed forever, and she needs you to wrap your arms around her, hand her tissues, draw a bath for her and let her know you love her. Throw in some chocolate and a chick flick and you'll see her smile.
It’s all to easy to go down the slippery slope of "happy hour" clinking glasses in the hopes she’ll be able to flush her ex out of her system with booze, but trust me, that doesn’t work.
In my book, Wine, Sex and Suicide – My Near Death Divorce, I chronicled the nitty-gritty picture of what it really looked like to sink into the depths of depression after my husband left. Happy hour usually led to the desperate hour of last-call and bringing home those random bedmates.The true healing and transformation came for me when I was able to quiet my mind.
2. Research a girls' nurturing getaway for a yoga or meditation retreat.
3. Give her the National Suicide Hotline phone number: 800-273-TALK.
They will talk to her in the middle of the night about whatever she needs to talk about. Let her know crisis isn't the only reason to call.
Even though her therapist might have said to call anytime, I know I didn’t feel comfortable doing that. Unfortunately, the hotline number I found when tears were blinding my vision only led to a voicemail system.
Give her one that works and let her know it's always OK to call.
4. Research local divorce support groups where she can feel a sense of community with others who understand what she’s going through.
Meetup groups, community centers or religious organizations are a good starting point in your local area. There are online forums where she can connect with others as well.
There’s no memorial service or visiting hours for your girlfriend going through the death of her marriage. She’s going through a grieving process. It's gut-wrenching and soul crushing.
5. Cook her a meal once a week and visit with her.
Listen to her and let her know you love her and care about her. Bring her some soft beautiful flowers or a plant to symbolize the promise of new growth.
6. Offer to run errands for her on the days her broken-hearted body stays tucked in bed all day.
Also, go with her on the days she manages to get out of her PJs and stop for coffee or tea, maybe at an outdoor café where she can get a little sunshine.
7. If you’re away, text her quotes on dealing with heartbreak, peaceful pictures or things you know she’ll think are funny.
Send a card in the mail. Small gestures go a long way. Let her know someone is thinking about her and loves her dearly ... even when she's on her own.
I had a dear friend text me beautiful pictures of sunsets that always seemed so well-timed. They lifted me out of my emotional pain for the moment. It was comforting to know she was thinking about me and it helped me not feel so alone.
8. Help her redecorate.
The simple act of moving some furniture around, putting out different candle holders, changing up the artwork, and getting new throw pillows in her favorite color will help her not feel ‘stuck’ in the same environment.
9. When she’s ready, help her box up items to donate and bring them to the donation center for her.
One of the hardest things I did alone was bring my wedding gown to the thrift store. When it became clear I couldn’t afford to keep my house, I had a lot of things to get rid of and going through it all by myself was torturous.
If your friend is more private and has a hard time asking for help, you may have to assert your offer, but she will truly be grateful. You’ll be helping her by allowing her the time to grieve and move through her sadness and not be caught up in the stressful details of managing day-to-day activities that can feel overwhelming.
For some reason, some people treat a divorcing woman like a contagious disease and they leave her alone, festering in her sadness. Don't worry, you won't catch anything except for her falling tears. You might even share a few laughs along the way and develop a closer bond in friendship.
As a woman who's been there, I can thank you for her.