8. Make your own community.

One of the reasons married people win the happy contest, at least according to social experiments and polls, is that marriage (and families) become small communities. And human beings thrive in communities. In his book “Bowling Alone,” Harvard professor Robert Putman writes about the deterioration in American culture today of social connections — civic groups, bridge clubs, bowling leagues — and sites a variety of different studies that underscore the emotional and physical health benefits gained by hanging out in groups and participating in a community.

So when a family breaks up, it’s important that you replace the family with another community. If you’re not a support group kind of person, then invest your energy in a few friendships that can give you the feedback, comfort, and companionship that you need at this difficult time. And consider this: even if you don’t become a permanent member, support groups can help you connect with people on important topics like how to talk to your children about the divorce, coping with unsupportive family members, accessing when it’s time to start dating, making the right financial decisions, and learning about divorce laws and your rights. (There are divorce groups here at Beliefnet’s Community, or you can start the conversation in Group Beyond Blue. Psych Central has a divorce and separation support group as well.)

9. Make a self-esteem file.

You are definitely going to need a self-esteem file, because my guess is that at some point in the divorce process, you will blame yourself, look into the mirror, and say, “You’re a failure.” That’s not the truth, of course. But if you are like me, you won’t be able to convince yourself otherwise, and may need to collect the evidence from some really good friends, to whom you will give the assignment of listing ten of your positive qualities. If they don’t come through, ask another three friends, or maybe your mailman. He’s objective, right? Place the nice letters in a manila folder and label it “My Self-Esteem File.” Keep it handy, because every time someone complements you in the slightest (“Blue is a pretty color on you. It matches your eyes.”), you should jot the warm fuzzy down on a post-it, and stick it into the file. Before long, that baby is going to be so fat that you can no longer carry it up and down stairs. Oh, and be sure to read it!

10. Give advice … and lots of it!

You don’t have to look too far to find all kinds of folks in troubled relationships. And whether you like it or not, you now have some experience that could be very helpful to them. My mom used to call up friends who were having marital problems and implore them to work harder at their marriage … to be more forgiving … to try their best to make it work … so that they might be spared the pain that she endured. On the other hand, maybe your divorce has freed you to become the person you were meant to be, and you want to inspire a friend who is stuck in an abusive relationship to get out, NOW, because divorce isn’t the death sentence that people think it is. Whatever your story is, you have wisdom tucked inside. Share it!

11. Ignore the horror stories.

Now that I’ve told you to dispense unsolicited advice to the hurting person, I am going to tell you to ignore the unsolicited advice you get from everyone else. I qualify that. You know which voices are full of insight and wisdom and care. You can listen to them without shaking. And you’re getting better at identifying which persons are bitter and full of anger, and would love to spend an afternoon venting about their Satanic ex-spouse … am I right? My humble advice would be to guard yourself from the latter. Because you have enough worries on your plate. No need to load up on more courtesy of the “he’s a son of a bitch” chick.

12. Don’t rush the process.

In her book, “101 Little Instructions for Surviving Your Divorce,” Barbara Walton, a practicing divorce lawyer, offers some helpful tips and sound advice for the person navigating through the messy terrain of divorce. One is to treat the grieving process of a divorce just as you would a death … so you predict the same four phases: denial, anger, grief, and acceptance. But I interject one important difference: a person grieving the loss of her spouse from a death most likely will get more support from the community than the woman or man going through a divorce, which is even more reason you should be gentle with yourself and take your time to heal, really heal, from this traumatic event.