Whether it’s your sibling, a parent or your best friend, it’s hard to watch someone go through a divorce. You know that they need comfort and help — but you may still feel somewhat helpless to ease their sorrows.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Don’t volunteer advice. No two marriages are like, so no two divorces are exactly the same, either. Whether you’re a veteran of your own “divorce wars” or not, hold your advice until you’re asked. Even then, it’s wiser to defer them to professionals, like a therapist or an attorney.
  2. Ask them out. Divorces usually create a shakeup in the divorcing couple’s social structure. Your friend or relative may be unsure who is “safe” to hang out with. Make it clear that you’re still there for them and invite them out to dinner or coffee.
  3. Offer to babysit. If your friend or relative has children, you can bet that they’re struggling to find time to do everything they need to get done right now. Offer to take the kids for an afternoon so that your friend can get their paperwork together, visit their attorney or just get grocery shopping done.
  4. Be clear and consistent about your confidence. You may think it goes without saying that your buddy can confide in you — but it doesn’t. Make it clear that you won’t pass on anything they say.
  5. Don’t trash their ex. Even if you always hated their spouse, remember: People do reconcile. You want to remain as neutral as possible. You can offer sympathy and agree that a certain behavior their spouse exhibits is bad or impossible to tolerate, but you should do much more listening than talking.

Divorce can touch anyone’s life. If you’re uncertain about your own marital future, find out more about your legal options.