Updated: Jul 10, 2022
No one can take this heavy burden of deployment from you. You can't stop it. There's nothing you can say or do to change the military's mind unfortunately. I give you permission to be a mess. Oh? You're already there? OK! We are tracking!
Mental Health Tip: Take a shower. You don't even need to wash. Sit on the shower floor if able, and just let the water pour.
I think the hardest part for me is when you find out in months advance that a deployment is going to happen, because then it can feel in its own sort of twisted way, like a form of torture. A case of the inevitable knocking on your minds door each and every day reminding you of what is coming. The thing you dread. I don't like waiting. I'd rather just get it all said and done with to be honest.
Definition of Grief
1: deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement
2: a cause of such suffering
Grieving. We know it all too well. We weren't meant to do life without our spouse, and deployments take different tolls on us all. The strange thing about grief, is that it comes and goes, in waves. In one wave, you are already thinking about all the birthdays and holidays that will be missed. You are thinking about how your baby is going to get big, and your spouse is going to miss out on all of that. You are thinking about how your children are going to cope with their favorite person gone, and how desperately you want to prevent any sort of pain on their behalf.
I've had waves hit me so hard, where I could hardly breathe. I'd find myself laying in a fetal position on the floor and nothing but guttural cries just pouring out, all at the same time, wondering -how am I going to do this by myself with small children? It's especially hard to keep it in at times when you have little people that still need you to be mom or dad. Because you can't stop being mom or dad. You have to keep on going, even when it's the last thing you want to do. Even when you feel like you are drowning and can't get a breath in otherwise. Grief. It comes in waves, and it doesn't always look the way you may have pictured it, and that’s OK.
Let me just say that it is normal. You are not crazy. You are not losing your mind even though you think you are. You are the strongest person I know military spouse. If you need support -fight through everything you feel- and seek it out with everything you are! Don't give up! I repeat don't you give up!
So this begs me to question, how do we function as "normal" as humanly possible, when our spouses are gone? How do we live without letting resentment, sadness, and possibly fear cripple us? How do we be what our kids need us to be when we feel so broken? It says in
Matthew 16:24-26 MSG,
"Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?"
Oh my soul. When I hear this scripture I crumble at the mention of His name. Less of me, and more of you Jesus, please! One moment in the presence of the Lord changes everything friend. So my answer is run. Run into the arms of Jesus every single day. Pursue Him with intentionality. Pursue Him like your life depended on it, because it does. Pursue Him until your priority is Him, through and through. You say, "oh just run to Jesus, that's easier said than done Elyse!" Listen, you can make every excuse in the book, and you can run to every other distraction this world has to offer- but you will never be satisfied unless you CHOOSE to embrace this suffering and find your true self in the presence of God Almighty. I'm not saying it will be easy. What I am saying, is that you can not do this on your own. We need supernatural strength. That comes from Jesus.
During this time of your spouse being gone, I'd like to encourage you to set goals for yourself. What can you accomplish while your loved one is gone? What can you do? Who can you help? Who can you connect with? How can you manage your time better? You are capable, and you are so much stronger than you know!
If you're new to the military or have an upcoming deployment, hopefully you've been briefed somewhat. There are resources out there to help you navigate what things you'll want to do before your spouse leaves. Just to help you better prepare, and be in the know. You can even find a deployment checklist, and ways to even help you prepare your kids the best you can. At www.militaryonesource.mil is a good reference. I recently bought a deployment activity book for my kids and it's been a great help. You can find that at https://www.amazon.com/My-Dads-Deployment-deployment-activity/dp/1934617075/ref=sr_1_20?keywords=military+deployment+book+for+kids&qid=1657486248&sprefix=military+deployment+book+%2Caps%2C145&sr=8-20.
You will have ups and downs. Keep running to the Lord, remember who you are. You have great purpose. Be encouraged and know that you are not alone.