The time has come to start the “wait”. The emotional roller coaster no one likes being on. Sometimes it’s long and sometimes it’s short but it’s always the same. You think, “I’ve got this!” and then the next moment, “No, don’t leave me!” and of course, “Come on, just go! I want to start counting down.” It’s the “wait”……. The wait for them to leave. It can be so hard to deal with and some handle it better than others. However, there are some things you should do and/or shouldn’t do to help make the “wait” just a little easier.
Do hug and cuddle often as a family. When you feel that stress bubbling reach out and grab your spouse and say, “I love you.” And laugh often!
Don’t pick fights. Do you really want to be fighting in those last precious days? No, probably not. We all do it but try hard not to and find other ways to communicate your frustrations. If you are struggling in this area make sure to reach out to the services that can help like Family Support Centers, Military OneSource and Chaplains.
Do find time to do something special as couple and/or a family. My husband was lucky enough to get a few extra days and we took that opportunity to go four wheeling. It was so wonderful to just get out in nature and forget what lay ahead for us.
Don’t leave your duffle bag, various uniforms and other stuff for deployment all over the living/family room. It is a constant reminder for your family that you are leaving. Instead leave it in another room that isn’t often visited by your spouse or children.
Do talk openly about the emotions of the upcoming deployment with your children. They put on such a brave front but inside it is turmoil. Expressing feelings helps them cope with any anxiety or stress about the months ahead.
Don’t put on a brave face for the sake of everyone else. It’s OK to be sad, angry and scared. What our service members do is a scary thing. Those emotions are OK to feel and it’s OK to show to them even to your children. Use this as a chance to talk to them how to handle these emotions properly.
Do plan for the months ahead. Come up with a “count down” for children, plan care packages and set goals for yourself. Living your life without spouse is a good thing. They want us to do that! It’s hard but necessary to be happy.
Don’t miss pre-deployment briefs. They are very important! This is where valuable information is passed to families members. Even if you have been through many. You might be the one person with a tip that could help a new spouse or girlfriend.
Do make a check list of all the documents that will be needed. There are lots and you don’t want to be that spouse who didn’t get a POA so you can get a new ID card. Be involved in that process and know which ones you need for what purpose.
Don’t miss the departure. Saying good-bye is the hardest thing to do. Lots of tears are shed but seeing them off is very important. It makes it real and enables you to move forward. You want your face and that of your children to be the last thing they see before stepping onto the ship or plane.
Those last weeks and days before our husband/wife leaves are so challenging. They are filled with all emotions on every spectrum. Hopefully, these few tips will help you cope just a little better.
Do you have any dos and don’ts not listed that are tried and true for your family?