Deployment is complicated to say the least, and it effects every family in a different way. It’s not just a matter of what happens during and after, but all of the “what ifs” that come along with it. It’s hard not to think of the worst possibilities, so the best we can do is prepare for what to expect. Whether it’s a husband, wife, sister, brother, etc., here are the 5 things that happen when a family member deploys.
| QUESTIONS, QUESTIONS, AND MORE QUESTIONS |
“Where exactly is he/she going?” “For how long?” “So when will they be home?” The questions are endless, and it may feel like the whole world has turned to you for answers. So what is the answer? Well, 95% of the time it’s a big, fat “I don’t know.” which only causes more curiosity and frustration between everyone. But as time passes and homecoming gets closer, these are all a bit easier to answer.
| LOOKING BACK |
As deployment gets closer, you start to really think about everything that has happened between yourself and your loved one. You reminisce on past events, and imagine what’s yet to come. In my own experience, I found myself rifling through old pictures, finding things I had long sense forgotten about. It can be a really peaceful way of processing what’s about to happen, and trying to find the good in it.
| MIXED EMOTIONS |
When the order has been given, and the date is set, there’s always that initial feeling of dread. Dread is often followed by sadness and worry, but it’s hard to know when and how to show these emotions. When you aren’t the one deploying, it almost feels selfish to get upset when the person leaving probably has a million thoughts going through their mind. There were many afternoons that I cried in my car, only to be seen by the other drivers at stop lights. It just didn’t seem fair for me to be upset, when there were much more important things happening.
| HELLO, RESPONSIBILITIES |
This varies with each situation, but if the person you share a home with is the one getting deployed, get ready for a lot to change. Cleaning, cooking, balancing the check book, family events, and much more are all you now, and it’s extremely overwhelming. You dread going to birthdays and holidays where everyone in the room will just ask more questions again (often the same ones you’ve already answered), and you’ll feel exhausted at times.
| THEY WILL CHANGE, BUT SO WILL YOU |
Deployment, training, or any kind of separation, no matter how long, seems to steal a part of us. Days, months, and sometimes years go by, and both people are growing and changing, but they’re doing it separately. Each person becomes independent, not just in their daily activities, but in the things that they used to rely on each other for.
One of the biggest fears in being separated is that they will come back and you won’t recognize who they’ve become. But this works both ways. There’s nothing easy about being left behind, but it’s not any easier to be the one leaving either. Imagine being gone for 6 months or a year and coming back to your home in another season, rearranged, and just different altogether. All you can do is try your best to communicate, and help each other through the transition.
What were some of your initial thoughts and emotions when a family member deployed? Was there anything that really surprised you?