15 ways to help your friend through a break-up

“He left me, and he’s not coming back.”

I said those words in January of 2005.

Has a friend ever said this to you?   Did you scramble to find-just-the-right-words-to-say-to-a-friend-whose-life-just-fell-apart?

Hi, Girlfriends and Guy friends,

Two weeks ago I promised some tips to help you help your friends going through a major break-up or divorce. (If YOU are the one experiencing a major break-up, please check out my blog, “16 helpful tips to navigate holidays after a major break-up or divorce”.)  

Yes, in 2005 I was the one who shared those words with my family and friends.  Their reactions included; anger, shock, rage, and utter disbelief.  Lucky for me, my besties were supportive and present- while I was numb and incapacitated.  Those first weeks were a blur.  As I broke down, my friends and family showed up.  They brought food, made necessary phone calls, and picked up responsibilities for many pressing matters.

Holidays and special anniversaries are rough times when your friend or a family member need support.   That is why I put together this list of 15 ways you can help.  


  1. Listen.  Don’t fill the air with your words, suggestions, or advice.  Silence may feel awkward to you, but it is ok.

  2. Acknowledge their feelings.  Say things like; “That must really hurt”, “I hear you”, “I’m so sorry”.
  3. Take them out for a walk.  Moving muscles help when you are hurting.

  4. Send a card.  It’s nice to get personal mail rather than bills.  

  5. Offer to walk their dog or take care of a pet for a few days. They may feel overwhelmed and exhausted by the simplest tasks.

  6. Offer to take the children to the park or for ice cream. This is a win/win for your friend and their child.  

  7. Bring them food.  Your friend or family member may not be able to concentrate enough to prepare a meal or do food shopping. 

  8. Hand them tissues.  This lets them know you are comfortable with tears.

  9. Offer to drive them to an event.  It’s safer for them and gives them company too.

  10. Invite them over to your place.  A change of scenery is helpful at times like this.

  11. Just sit with them.  At home, on a park bench, on the porch, in the car.  

  12. Pray with them.  Hold their hand and offer a simple prayer of support.

  13. Offer to go with them to a support group. That first time is scary.  As I mentioned in my post two weeks ago, DivorceCare* and Surviving the Holidays* are fantastic programs developed specifically for your friend.

  14. Help them think through the upcoming weeks.  Are there special holidays, anniversaries, coming up? Talking through a plan may keep them from being blindsided by the emotional pain those days bring.  Offer to pick them up on that emotionally charged day.

  15. Mark your calendar with reminders to text them words of support on a regular basis.

Seven things that are NOT helpful to your friend or family member who is going through a divorce, separation, or breakup of a long term relationship:

  1. Give advice.

  2. Bash their ex.

  3. Get them drunk or high.

  4. Avoid them.

  5. Set them up on a date.  

  6. Ask nosey questions.

  7. Tell them everything is going to be alright. No platitudes.

Again, you are a dear friend.  Thank you for utilizing these ideas to support that hurting person in your life.  

God bless you.  


*Special thanks to DivorceCare.org for giving me permission to share their information.  

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