It’s D-day. You have to say goodbye. You drop them off. You hug and kiss for the last time. You drive away and then what? Sadness, just sadness and it can last for a while.
At least that is how it goes for so many of us. Just a feeling of sadness. Sad that you had to say goodbye, sad that you are alone, sad that you can think of everything they are going to miss.
So how do you conquer this deployment sadness? How do you start to feel joy?
The first few weeks of a deployment can be so stressful, so painful and so exhausting. You might have trouble sleeping, and feel emotionally spent. You might start thinking about how they were just there, “It was just last week we all went to the park together.”
This is the hard stuff. The deployment sadness hits you hard. It is like they are a ghost and they are just gone. You have to get used to that. It takes time before you get into your deployment mode and start to think that you actually can get through the next however many days without your spouse by your side.
Remember, it is never going to feel 100% normal while they are gone. Never. It never will feel completely right. You can have a wonderful day, get home, put the kids to bed, and then shed a couple of tears because you miss them. And that’s okay.
We can have fun, we can have good days, and we can go a whole week without a tear but something might always feel a little off.
So, how do you conquer the deployment sadness? You can stay busy, you can journal, and you can remind yourself 1,000 times that the deployment won’t last forever and that you won’t feel so horrible the whole time but the only true cure is time. You have to get through more and more days until you hit that deployment stride that will take to you the end.
It is just like when you are getting on a freeway with a really long on-ramp. You seem to be going in a circle for a while then finally you emerge on the freeway headed to your destination. One day you will wake up and be on that road, ready to get through the deployment,
The first month and last month of a deployment can be the worst. You just have to get through them. One day at a time or one hour at a time if you must.