Dr. Jude Black
A Loved One's Guide to Deployment
It is tough to be left behind when a loved one is on deployment. Days and nights often feel longer and can be filled with anxiety and loneliness. Friends who are unfamiliar with the military lifestyle often say the wrong thing or become distant. Things change, people change, life happens… and it is tough for all of that do go on without your loved one there to share the experiences with you. Here are a few tips to help you through the ups and downs of deployment (and if you are a friend of someone whose loved one is deployed…stay tuned for part two of this blog: How To Support A Friend Whose Loved One Is Deployed…and What NOT To Say).
Try not to look at the deployment as one whole chunk of time. Flipping through months of calendar pages will only make you feel discouraged. Break up the time by focusing on smaller chunks of time and focus on the next, closest, positive thing. Look forward to the birthday parting you will be attending next week, or a friend visiting next month. Maybe host a lunch or dinner party once a week or once a month; it will give you something to plan for and look forward to. Bonus points if you invite other people whose loved ones are deployed. Before your know it, the homecoming will be right around the corner and you will have the perfect excuse to splurge on an amazing homecoming outfit!
Give yourself a goal or a project to focus on during the time. Embrace that you have some time to really focus on yourself. Sign up for an art or photography class, train for a half marathon, or get certified in something. This well help pass the time, and you will have a new skill to show off to your loved one once they get home.
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Record their voice or video message before they leave for deployment so that you can keep on your phone. When you have those moments where you just need to hear or see them, you can!
Communication is key. This can be really difficult and communication may be sparse… but doing everything you can to be present and open during the times you talk will be key. It is about quality of the conversation. Chat when you can, Skype when you can, send emails, letters and care-packages. Right now, you don’t have the physical presence to rely on so you will need to dig deep and just talk. Small talk is great day to day, but deeper conversations over letter and emails are crucial. You will need to rely on your words to create closeness. Over many months, people and things change, so keep your loved one up to date on everything and be open to listening to their changes and experiences.
Allow yourself to bask in your pride. Pride is not always a bad thing. You are proud of your loved one! You are tougher than you think. Be proud of yourself.
Finally, remember that people outside your world, try. People don’t understand, but they will try, and they will probably say the wrong thing. Try to remember that the intention is more important than what they said. They are trying to sympathize and understand. They are trying to be kind and helpful, they just don’t know how. Do both of you a favor and send them a link to Part 2 of this blog… coming soon!
About the Author: Amanda Rausch is E-Therapy Cafe's COO, Anxiety Conqueror, Broken Heart Mender, Life Transition Explorer, Grief Healer. To work through some of the messy things in life, schedule an appointment with her HERE.
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