First we have Denial & Isolation- The moment I heard we were heading back to Fort Deployment (Hood) I was in denial. No freaking way am I going back there. I mean, what is wrong with the Army? We VOLUNTEERED to stay in Korea. Why would they spend so much money on sending us back across the world? This turned into the Second stage of grief which is Anger. I was so Angry with the Army for not letting us stay put in our happy home where Hubby worked 'normal' hours and we had dinner together as a family most nights. Then the Barganing started - Really honey, you don't HAVE to take this job..... Once we hit Texas soil Depression set in. Not only did the Army move us back to Texas, they screwed up on housing - we had to live in a tiny 3 bedroom apartment with a borrowed folding table and borrowed air mattresses while we waited for a house that was supposed to be ready upon our arrival. And finally I Accepted the fact that we were living at Fort Hood and that my soldier would be deploying once again.
Now, all that doesn't mean I am out of the grief cycle, because I am not. I've been revisiting one or more of those stages on a daily basis. For me Denial and Isolation might only last for an hour, and then I move on to Anger, which could last for 20 minutes to five hours. Typically during this time, I do not talk to anyone on the phone and I just hang out by myself (back to isolation) till I am out of the funk. For you it may look totally different. When I feel depression hitting, I call a wine meeting on my porch with all my neighbors. I love to surround myself with like people, people going through the same thing I am, or people that have been there. (Personally I could NEVER again leave my military family during a deployment. I did that once, moved to my old hometown for a year while my soldier was deployed and I will be the first to admit that it was the hardest deployment I have ever been though.) During this rollercoaster of grief I have fully Accepted that my soldier will be deploying once again, I may not be happy about it, but I have accepted that it is happening. I have friends that have not accepted this reality even when their soldier has deployment orders in hand. Whatever your grief process is, just know that you are not alone, and this is 'normal'.
So, here are a few things off the top of my head that no one tells you about deployment and believe it or not, they are all normal.....
One or both of you shut down weeks (sometimes months) before deployment.
You will fight A LOT over stupid little things before your soldier deploys.
You might feel the 'connection' with your soldiers is not as strong as it was last month. Or you may feel it is stronger.
Your children will freak out, becoming more moody than ever. There will be more tears and more fighting as you enter into this separation that is not 'normal'. A week or two week business trip is what 'normal' kids deal with, not 1 year of being afraid you might never see your Daddy/Mommy again.
Saying good-bye at the manifest site SUCKS.
Your soldier’s flight will change at least 3 times.
You will get to the point to where you just want your soldier to be gone. This is not because you don't love your soldier, but because it is too painful for them to be here anymore. The countdown is too hard. Their work hours are too long. The emotional rollercoaster of date’s changing is too much and you are ready for the countdown of their return to start.
Just when you think you can't deal with anything else, something will break, someone will need surgery, or your loving pet will die the moment your soldier boards the plane to leave...
With all of this being said I want you all to know how proud I am of my soldier and how proud I am to be able to say "I am a wife of a US Army Soldier". My soldier is strong, proud and is a true American hero. He will fight till the end, but I hope he doesn't have to.
Toby Keith sings it so well here. (Click to listen)