How Military Families Deal With Separation During The Holidays

The holidays have always been my favorite time of year. From the beautiful lights to the priceless family gatherings, I turn into one of those giddy people that truly sees the “magic” in all of it. My husband and I have always shared this love for the whole season, so with 6,000 miles separating us, we knew this year would be particularly hard. Many military families face the same situation, and the holidays can serve as a heart wrenching reminder of the things that their loved one will miss.

Like many military families, we have dealt with multiple separations during this time of year. It wasn’t always for something as lengthy as a deployment, but no matter the distance or the reason, it was hard. Families going through a separation face a unique set of challenges any time of year. But throw in some cropped Christmas cards and a few, “When are they coming home?” questions, and it can turn us all into Scrooge.

Sometimes we seclude ourselves

It’s hard to see all the together-ness when the one person you want to be with is so far away. For some, this is when we take a step back and we may be drawn into the loneliness. And it might not make sense to those who don’t feel it, because we’re surrounded by all of these people that love us. We want to embrace the joy of the season, but a piece of us is missing. Be patient, and love us even when we act unlovable.

Sometimes we’re angry

I’ve felt a lot of things over the last few months, all the way from pride and happiness to extreme anger and frustration. Sometimes it’s smooth sailing and other times it’s a roller coaster with no seat belt. The holidays are an emotional time as it is, so it’s completely normal for those emotions to be heightened by the chaos, or lack thereof. It’s normal to want to lash out or be angry at the world for a day. You can allow yourself some time to freak out. But the key is to know when to get back up, dust yourself off, pour some wine (or whiskey) and move on from it.

Sometimes we avoid all the feels

This is 100% me this season. Rather than feeling too emotional or pretending to be overly happy, I think I was somewhat numb to it all. Maybe it was too hard to feel anything, or maybe I was overwhelmed and I just shut down. Either way, it’s normal to want to shut it out for a little while. We’re mentally and often physically exhausted from filling all of the roles in our home and personal life. This is the time of year that I heard the most, “I don’t know how you do it” comments, and while that may seem like a compliment or that I should be flattered that you think I’m some kind of superhero, I could do without.

So, whether you’re the one going through this separation or it’s another family down the street, be kind to each other. Be patient and willing to embrace the fact that “this too shall pass”. Let yourself feel all the feelings, good and bad, or take a day to shut it all out. No matter how you choose to approach it (even on days when it truly gets the best of you) it’s not defeating you.

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