DEAR MISS MANNERS: I was shocked and saddened to learn that an old friend of mine had gotten divorced last year after some 40 years of marriage. I understand that it was not her choice.
She and her husband apparently chose to keep the divorce very private (assisted by the pandemic lockdown), and most people are only now hearing the news.
She is my age (mid-60s), and we have known each other since the early 1980s, when we were both young moms starting our careers. We are both in the same profession, have served on boards together, belong to many of the same organizations, and our children even went to preschool together many moons ago. Although we have never been super-close "girlfriends," we have a very warm relationship -- we are always pleased to see one another, enjoy sitting together at club meetings, and generally appreciate catching up on each other's lives, despite going long periods of time without contact.
Is there any appropriate way for me to acknowledge the news of her divorce? I feel an urge to send a "thinking of you" note, but I am afraid that might seem intrusive.
For what it's worth, I went through a painful divorce when my kids were young, and I appreciated the warm support of my female friends -- and even of strangers, including the bank tellers and customer service reps who helped me with the messy details of separating from my then-husband.
GENTLE READER: If she were being uncharitable, Miss Manners might suspect that you are wondering how to demonstrate support without the time commitment of providing it.
Despite your appreciation of the comments from strangers, a polite acquaintance, even a well-intentioned one, does not comment on the intimate details of another person's life. Even friends wait to be asked.
If you want to show support, extend an invitation to do something together intentionally. If, after a meal and a few drinks, she brings up her divorce, then you can share your own experience and your sympathy.