Over the next few weeks, Jamie Killian will be working on a series that asks a series of questions of those who have been through a difficult time, providing some guidance for how you can support someone in a similar situation.
Divorce is a devastating blow to anyone but it is particularly difficult when children are involved. Below, my friend Sara Wood gives us some insight into her experiences and how to support friends you may know in a similar situation:
Can you give us a timeline of your separation and divorce?
“My separation was in December 2013 and my divorce was finalized in March 2015. Other things, such as custody and assets, were not settled until mid-late 2016.”
Divorce can bring up feelings of failure. What are friends and family saying that you find most comforting?
“Divorce truly can bring up feelings of failure as well as many others. It is mentally and physically exhausting at times and can drag on for years. I was very fortunate to have family and friends that were always understanding, patient, and by my side.
“I think the most comforting things that were said to me were that I was going to make it through it, I was strong, and I was making the right choices. Even when things were the most overwhelming, I had family and friends that reminded me how far I had come and of the progress I made daily.”
A lot of times, people on the sidelines feel really helpless or don’t want to intrude but want to do something. How can they show they care in the most meaningful way?
“Sometimes the most meaningful way someone can show they care is just to listen. Listen without judgement, without a quick-fix or solution — just listen with empathy and love. I personally never minded if family or friends checked in on me or asked if they could pray for me, especially before or after court or other occasions of importance.”
Has anyone said anything with good intentions that left you shaking your head? What should we not say?
“Very early on, a few people questioned whether or not I was making the right decision. It felt patronizing to me. This is not a decision I made lightly, but as a last resort. It was also definitely the right decision for me and my family.”
How did you talk to your kids about your divorce? Did any defining moments result from those conversations?
“Both of my children had very different needs when it came to the divorce. My son was 6 at the time of separation and was always able to see it was for the best. He was at peace with it immediately.
“My daughter was 2 at the time of separation and so she is just now starting to have questions about the divorce. I keep an honest and open dialogue with them. I have to be flexible, patient and willing to listen to make sure I am always meeting both of their needs.
“I am now happily remarried. An open and age-appropriate dialogue has always been necessary to make it to this point in our lives, where we are in a new loving and trusting family.”
Photo Credit: Jamie Killian
This story was written for CharlotteFive’s latest channel for parents in the QC, called QC Playground. Sign up for the weekly QC Playground newsletter here.