11 October 2011

What to Do for a Person Going Through a Divorce or Trial

what to do for someone going through a divorce
Surrounding me here are some of the best women there ever could be.

Really, these Brooklyn women should write this post.  Because they (& many others) did everything and more for me.  They were my life line.  To this day I am blown away by the love that came my way as my divorce unfolded.  Here are some ideas on what to do for someone who is going through a divorce (these all meant the world to me.)


-TAKE THEM MEALS.
My appetite was shot after my husband left.  The whole thing was just a shock to my system.  But my friends fed me with home cooked meals which they dropped off at my home... For months!  MONTHS!  I almost always had something in the fridge.  And I had stacks of my friends' dishes all over my kitchen that needed to be returned.  It was the kindest most generous thing anyone has ever done for me.  I had never felt so loved and supported in my life & will never forget it for as long as I live.  I am telling you, there is nothing that makes you feel more loved than a good meal in your tummy.  I want so badly to follow their example and feed people whenever I can - especially anyone going through a challenging time.  

-KEEP THEM BUSY.
Guys, for 30 days or more, I think I had "plans" of some sort EVERY. SINGLE. NIGHT!  That's a lot for a busy New Yorker working (very) long hours + working on starting a business.  Holy crap, it was a whirlwind.  But a wonderful one!  I didn't even have to think about how much it would suck to be home alone, because it almost never happened for a very, very long time.  And I got hooked to American Idol at my friends' home & got to eat her killer meals & desserts once a week.  So on most nights, I was actually just fine crawling into my bed at night alone.  I had more fullness in my life than I had ever known. 

-SAY GOOD NIGHT & GOOD MORNING.
I know this may sound insignificant.  But when you are so accustomed to having a companion by your side at all times and suddenly they are gone, it's sad to never say or hear those daily little loving words that you'd normally share with a spouse.  One of my dearest friends lives up the street & is more like family to me.  Sometimes at night she'd text to say hello.  And she'd close it by saying, "Good night!"  As simple as it was, it meant the world to me as I crawled into bed!!  I guess some of those little gestures are so easy to take for granted, until you no longer have them. 

-PLAN A SCHEDULE FOR WALKING/RUNNING, etc.
One of my dearest friends had a baby who died the week my husband left.  It was a raw time for both of us as we faced that next phase of our lives.  But we had the strength to meet up together walk our little hearts out in Prospect Park several times a week.  It was one of the most healing things I've ever done.  We had time to breathe fresh air, share experiences, cry our eyes out (and sometimes laugh 'til we cried.  The automatic piano player at church comes to mind....the congregation thought my friend was playing.), reminisce about our loved ones, let someone know how we were doing, and also offer service & support to each another.  The experience was beautiful.  I will forever cherish those walks and I still think of them often, even now.  
 
-SEND CARDS OR EMAILS OFTEN.
Your message to them can just be that you are thinking of them, love them, support them and have confidence in them!   I got sooo many cards and gifts and little drawn pictures from my friends' children.  It was the sweetest thing ever.  I started to hang up all my notes on my wall in a tetris like display and it became such a bright spot in my apt.  It made me happy and feel loved every time I looked at it.  A collection of the sort still remains on my wall today.   And even though this is a busy time for someone handling a divorce, keep the emails/notes going, when you can.  Know that they may not be able to respond due to time, emotions, or lack of energy.  But every word will be read and appreciated to no end. 

-MAKE A QUILT.
"Mama Papa", "Papa Papa" (my maiden name is Papa :), Grandmas, and Sisters (all 4!) made a patchwork quilt for me.   My parents visited me in New York shortly after the divorce and they were beaming with from ear to ear as they presented me with a wrapped bundle.  I cried when I saw it.  I felt extra, extra, extra loved on some nights when I felt so sad and alone and cold in my house during that first winter.  I still treasure that quilt so much.  

-TEA, BOOKS, MUSIC, PEDICURES, FACIALS.
One dear friend brought me her favorite tea from Paris.  Other friends loaned me many inspiring, uplifting books.  One gave some new music to listen to.  (After a divorce, it's a wonderful time to get new music!!  Music becomes such a part of your life with a spouse.  It was very much a part of my life with my ex husband.  And so it was very refreshing to have some new playlists playing in my home and in my car.  Even now those post divorce playlists mean a lot to me because they take me back to that amazing time of my life.)  One dear, dear friend called me quite often for pedicures or brunch or walks.  She also took me to my first McDonald's run in Brooklyn (she was trying to get some meat on my bones, which I needed.  Love her!)  And another friend treated me to a 'Japanese facial' at her friend's facial studio in Brooklyn, which was one of the most lovely evenings of my life.   Can you believe all these wonderful ladies?

-WEEKENDS.
I'd say weekends can be some of the most challenging times for a newly divorced person.   Normally the end of the week means outings, dinners, & friends...and it's just different doing all that alone.  Danny and I both were immensely blessed in this department.  I always had dinner appointments.  And the best weekend ever was a girls weekend with all my Brooklyn girlfriends.  Everyone left their kids and husbands behind and we packed the Rover and went on a "road trip" to New Jersey - the closest suburb.  It's always an "adventure" for us city ladies to go to the suburbs!  Hahaha.  We hit Dairy Queen, Target, Chili's, and a real Mall - - oh, the joy of big box America!!  hahha.  It really was one of the best weekends of my life.   On Danny's end, there was a family in Boston who adopted him.  Every night and every weekend they were calling him to come on over.  Meals!  Football!  Cookies!  Rock Band!  They would just come up with any excuse to invite him over.  I love them so much for doing that for him.  It truly meant the world to him.  

-MEN.
This may sound strange, but I was so thankful for some of the good, honorable men in my life during that time.  They were my friends' husbands, or leaders at church, or both.  Many of them were quite protective of me during that time, along with their wives.  They gave me blessings, offered to help with man jobs around the house, gave me encouragement, gave me hope, told me about their guy friends they wanted to set me up with, and checked out every guy I was dating to make sure they were good guys.  I was very thankful for those friends during that time.  I could just see their good, wholesome Priesthood duties kicking in, and it was wonderful to still feel some of that influence even after my husband left. 

-HOLIDAYS.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, & Birthdays can all be very hard times for a person who is newly divorced.  You are just flooded with memories as these dates roll around.  The first time this holiday thing was an issue for me was just a couple of months after my husband left.  It was Conference Weekend (the "Mormon holiday" when the Apostles and Prophets speak to the world via broadcast.  It's the Mormon version of Super Bowl Sunday, but with brunch and pajamas and the most inspiring words you could imagine :).   In the past, we would always make a huge brunch, host several couples/families, and lounge around and listen to all those good words.  But that first time, I was doing it alone and I was so mad my husband wasn't there.  But, I was still surrounded by friends.  And it was wonderful to be with them.  My first Thanksgiving turned out to be a DREAM.  Some old Brooklynites were so incredibly gracious to invite me to join them in Westchester.  I had the most lovely day full of smiles all day long & cried myself to sleep that night because I was so grateful for them and for that day and for all the goodness in my life.  I will never forget their kindness.  And then, Christmas....well, it was full of SO many good memories, too.  My family was just extra kind to me that year - - Mama Papa, Papa Papa, Sisters, Brother, nieces and nephews...they all gave me extra love.  And it meant so much.   Oh, and my first birthday was heavenly.  I had a big double birthday bash with a dear friend and they packed the house.  It was just blissful.  













I told you my friends & family were awesome.  Seriously, some of the best on earth.  I will be forever & ever be grateful to them.   

LOVE YOU ALL,

Mara

P.S.  Do any of you have any other suggestions to add here?  I am sure there are many.  I hope this can become an even greater list of things. 

22 comments:

  1. I found your blog through Design Mom and can't get enough. :) You are such a beautiful and inspiring woman. Thank you for all of the goodness you are putting out in to the world.

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  2. so many beautiful women and dear friends in those pictures! they make me desperately miss those years in Brooklyn. thanks for this list. It is hard when you see a friend struggling through a divorce (or other trial) and don't know how to help.

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  3. Hi Mara. I'm friends with both Laurie and Kelli and loved hearing about your relationship with Danny from them at our monthly girl nights. Laurie sent us all the link to your blog, and I've enjoyed reading your positive and uplifting posts. It isn't easy to figure out the key to happiness doesn't come from outside sources; it comes from within and by recognizing the Lord's hand and blessings in your life. Of course, I had to battle cancer three times before I figured that out for myself, so I appreciate that you are so open and willing to share your story with others. These lessons apply to everyone, whatever our own struggles might be. So thanks for sharing. I can't wait to read more!
    Oh, and I agree wholeheartedly with what you said about good friends---I have the best friends in the world (Kelli & Laurie included) who have helped me come out of my trials feeling grateful, blessed, and happy.

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  4. Loved this post. I am so glad you were so well taken care of. How could anyone not just love you to pieces Mara, you're the best!

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  5. I happened onto your blog last week and it's lovely to read. I was where you are 13 years ago. Divorced after 3 years (at age 24...) and trying to date as a young LDS divorcee was the toughtest thing I've done. But much of what you say rings universally true. And writing through it helps. And still helps! I've been remarried for 12 years, have a 5 year old son and life is brilliant. I don't regret my divorce. At all. People look at me so strange when I say that, but it's true. It's nice to know that feeling isn't singular.

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  6. Hi! I just found your blog (through Design Mom) and I absolutely love it!

    I'm 21 and single, and have never gone through a divorce but I loved this list. I went through a break-up this summer and that was hard enough; I can't imagine how much it would hurt to go through a divorce. Still, a lot of what you have written here has applied to how I've felt the past few months. I am so blessed to have wonderful friends who did a lot of what you have listed here!

    Isn't it nice to know that we're not alone?

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  7. I absolutely loved reading this post!! I so relate! I received so many of these same kindnesses and from some of those same sweet friends in Brooklyn! It makes me miss them all so much!! What a tuff time it is when a spouse leaves, making those thoughtful acts of service rendered more meaningful and needed at that time than probably any other time of my life. Gratitude to the upmost for those loving, ready and able women!

    I do have one other addition to the list - a kindness that not only touched my heart and made me feel less alone after my husband left - but one that also strengthened me from the inside out. I had several friends and, I'm sure you did too, Mara, who knew that the healing I needed was through the Savior. Friends who watched my son so I could go to the temple. Friends who took that wriggly boy out of sacrament meeting for me, so I could listen and feel the spirit. Friends like you and Danny, who came over to talk with me at a moment's notice, about the true source of strength and forgiveness, and the very inspiring testimonies you shared from your similar experiences. Of all the kindnesses and love that I so abundantly felt, the greatest strength I received came as others pointed me toward the Ultimate Healer.

    Thank you for being one of those people for me, Mara. And thank you for sharing in this wonderful blog. :)

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  8. Amanda Greer - I am just so glad that at single woman like you can connect with what I have written. phew! It was my hope going into this that women like you could relate..... cause break-ups can be very similar to divorces. I have a very good friend that just had a sad break-up and so I have her in mind a bunch as I write.

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  9. Dear Readers: I can't tell you humbled I am to have you and others reading the blog.
    I am so glad that you are finding it inspiring. I am writing my heart out - hoping to do just that. So THANK YOU for your wonderful comments - the encouragement means the world.

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  10. Nicole B.: I couldn't believe it when I read you had cancer three times. Wow. You have faced so much!! But how beautiful that the experience helped you to progress... that is wonderful & powerful to hear. Thank you for sharing.

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  11. It was heartwarming to read through this post and look at the pics of these really cool women. I recognize these wonderful faces. Though I am probably only known to you all as Bill Motzing's wife, I feel like I know these good people. Bill has spoken so highly of all his friends and acquaintances in that ward. By the way, I'm really enjoying your blog! Thank you so much for inviting me to read it, but most of all, thank you for taking the time and effort into sharing your thoughts as difficult as some of them are sure to be. I have recommended your blog to friends already! Go Mara! We are thrilled that you are so happy! Love and blessings from some long lost friends and fans.

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  12. When I got divorced my sister drove with me through the city and we imagined what my new life would look like. The art school I would be attending, the adorable boutique I would work at, the friends I would hang out with (she would point out fun/fashiony looking girls on the street) and I would get butterflies of excitement for all the possiblities. I will forever be thankful to my sister for those city drives that gave me SO much hope and incredibly, excitement in a time that I didn't have much of either. :)

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  13. This is the same anonymous as posted above, but another thing that really helped me was my siblings telling me over and over their love stories. I would chat with my sisters/sister in law every night and ask them to tell me different aspects of their love stories and as odd as that might sound, it didn't make me feel jealous or depressed that I didn't have that (I had to leave an abusive marriage) but it gave me hope that I could maybe find that too. I LOVED hearing stories like mine of hope, or just plain good love stories. Also my sister read to me on her couch, while I would lay next to her cozied up on the couch she would read me good love stories or other good books and I LOVED that. Sorry I could just keep adding and adding, but I relate a lot to much of what you wrote...I too am now happily married to the man of my dreams. :)

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  14. Anonymous - I absolutely LOVE your comments. Thx so much for sharing. It took me back. I think after a divorce it is SO POWERFUL to start envisioning a new life, and I love hearing about your experience with that. It can be kind of exciting...so much that one might feel a little strange or guilty feeling that way. But I think it's wonderful to feel that giddiness. And your siblings... ahhh... how awesome that you were surrounded by them.

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  15. thank you for sharing this! it's always wonderful to know how best to bless friends when they most need love! :)

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  16. I've been recently hearing some horror stories about being divorced in the Church. Your experience seems to be quite the opposite. Is your ward/family/group of friends an anomaly? I hope you don't mind me sending people to this blog. People need to hear about positive faith communities... IMO.

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  17. CJ - thx for writing. I do think the Brooklyn ward is a unique group of people (some of the best I've ever known) & I was very lucky to be surrounded by so many that didn't have a shred of judgement. It's just not the culture of the ward. The ward is full of converts and people of all backgrounds...no one is alarmed or looks shamefully upon anyone who is different than them in any way - we actually all just love the diversity, which is one of the main reasons why most of us love living there so much. Also, there are many people who have gone through unfortunate circumstances...so the ward has just become a sanctuary where people can heal, serve, love, etc. There is a tremendous outreach to anyone who shows up. Btw, Danny was in Boston during his divorce and had the same type of experience there. His ward was awesome. On another note, because of typical human tendencies, I think often times the way we behave ourselves can affect the way we are perceived or treated by others. If we act shamefully, don't participate, barely contribute anything, feel insecure and embarrassed, focus mainly on ourselves & our needs, etc....we end up sending a not so inviting vibe out into the world. While it shouldn't matter, it still may make it more difficult for people to reach out and serve, etc. By some miracle, when I went through my divorce, I was finally in a place where religion & spirituality meant something to me. I clung to it and gave my heart to it -so during that time of my life I was participating, serving, speaking, working with the youth, trying to be a good person, etc. I didn't hold back one bit. I am guessing that my own behavior also contributed to my overall positive experience in the ward during that time, including the way I was treated by others. p.s. Yes, always happy to have our readers share our blog with others! Thx so much!!

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  18. After 4 years together (18 months married) my husband and I have split up. He hasn't been honoring me, or allowing me into his heart. He was (is?) using very dangerous drugs -- I thought it was out of the blue and was COMPLETELY shocked -- has spent all his money and landed himself (and consequently, me as well) in a ton of debt. He has been seeking relationships and sex outside of the marriage...and he refused to go to counseling with me. "Counseling just makes things worse."

    He wanted me to just let it all go and move on -- I couldn't even get an apology. With no reconciliation, no apology, and finally seeing that he doesn't respect or love me the way I deserve, I felt like God was sending me the signal to get out of a very toxic relationship and to re-examine my own relationship with myself , so I filed for divorce last month. Even though I am the one who filed, this period of time -- while being huge for self growth and self love -- has been so incredibly painful. My friends and family have been 110% supportive and have also taken care of me. I am so grateful, and I hope to show them my gratitude. It is so wonderful to go on regular walks, to eat dinner with friends, to have a schedule of sorts -- and to just listen. To not ask me about it unless I bring it up, to call and check on me. It has helped me not turn back to the relationship, and I really think I would have done so already if I didn't have the support I have.

    I really enjoyed this blog post. I hope you are doing well!

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    Replies
    1. Anon - Thank you for this comment and for sharing your experience. Of course I'm sorry that you've had to go through any of the things you described above... Mara and I are also so grateful for the friends and family that reached out to and supported us.

      One thing I noticed about my own experience is that it only increased my ability to love and have compassion for others, be it those who offend me or do wrong by me, or those who I know that suffer in one form or another. I feel like it's helped me to be a better friend to people in need. I hope that you too will find yourself more willing to love and be loved as a result of these difficult experiences.

      My best to you, thanks again for sharing. I'm grateful the things we're writing have been of service to you in even the slightest ways!

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  19. This bloig is amazing and very inspirational!

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  20. I am a mom with a broken heart. Our son went through a divorce about 3 years ago. He did not want that divorce. Ever seen a grown man cry? Our church teaches the sanctity of marriage, the importance of family life and children. He had three children--young and impressionable. The divorce was the worst thing that could have happened to him. His Ex just wanted out of the marriage and she wanted the kids, too. Even though he was supposed to get them every other weekend and holidays, she has convinced the kids that their dad is bad and they shouldn't go with him. He is a righteous man, industrious, kind, and a great family man. I read your experiences about divorce and made some notes of things to do. Would you suggest anything else?

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