A Chaplain once told me that Military families are in a constant state of grief.  Grief, really? Most people associate grief with death.  However grief is that internal feeling we have when we have a loss.  Military families today are in a constant grief cycle wheather it be from moving to a new duty station or having a spouse deploy. When I realized this I was in shock!  How simple, yet I never realized this.    

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)
3/9/2011 11:59:05 pm

A truly great piece, Trish. Sending you a big hug, and an even bigger glass of wine.

George Gabor
3/10/2011 12:28:33 am

Oh Trish.....I can't imagine. You are stronger than anyone I know(except Karen of course). You, Jeremy and your entire family will be in our thoughts. They say time flies, but I guess sometimes it just doesn't fly fast enough. How long has it been since we've seen you? 15-16 years. That time flew by.
Anyway....we love you all and will send positive vibes your way, always.

3/10/2011 12:33:53 am

omg that brought tears to eyes!!

3/10/2011 12:49:05 am

Nobody ever tells you that you that you will be the head of the family or that you will make so many decisions on your own because your soldier is gone. Nobody tells you that you will be a single parent but still be a very devoted spouse. Nobody tells you that there will be no sweet kisses or soft touches for a year, that you have to hug your friends just to feel a connection that you need so much. Nobody ever tells you that you are stronger than you know. And you Trish, you are one of the strongest ladies i've ever met. You find time for your family, your friends and to volunteer. Glad I have you as a friend and a leader

3/10/2011 01:18:54 am

Awesome! Perfect! You said everything that all of us feel. Saying a prayer for your Hubby's safe tour!

3/10/2011 01:22:35 am

What great additions to this. You are so right.
Thanks to everyone for the kind words.

3/10/2011 01:33:50 am

awesome. know this but seeing it written again is validation and I think I will share with my 1-7 friends if that's okay. We have many first time deployment spouses. thanks for this entry.

3/10/2011 02:00:32 am

Wow Trish! This was written beautifully. People outside the military have no idea what you guys go through, the family that sarifices along side of the soldier.

Love and miss you.

3/10/2011 02:22:24 am

Thanks for sharing...it's amazing how strong the military family is and *has* to be. I went to my childhood home as well when my husband deployed and it is something I will never do again. Home is wherever you are as a family...including your fellow spouses. You are stronger than you ever thought possible. :)

3/10/2011 02:22:33 am

So very true!

3/10/2011 02:40:58 am

What a wonderful piece!! You hit the nail on the head, Trish! It has been a long time for me, but reading it really brought back the memories and brought tears to my eyes!! If I may be so bold, I would add this: No one may tell you, but you Will be STRONGER, not weaker, leaning on your military family! Even if you have a close family of parents and siblings, chances are they aren't around the corner. Even if they are, they can "get it" only to a point. Your military family will be a source of sfrength unlike any other, and learning to accept, and even ASK, for their help is a testament to how strong you really are!! You will bring to the circle of friends your compassion, your faith, your resourcefulness -- and they will be blessed by you too. Oh, one more thing: people you don't even know -- like your extended (and retired) military family -- is thinking of, and praying for, you every day!
Thanks for sharing this blog, Trish! You rock!

Christy Sakelaris
3/10/2011 05:28:30 am

Thank you for sharing Trish and know that I love you dearly!!! You are a smart, beautiful, funny and loving mom and wife who I look up to. Keep the faith and know that you have many friends who are here for you through the good and bad. Love ya girl!!!

Kim Barger
3/10/2011 07:06:04 am

Trish, You are stronger on your weakest days than I am on my strongest. You all have our love, support & respect.

3/10/2011 10:15:38 am

...Precious friend...I will not fail you by forgetting to pray even for one day. I understand where you are...call me anytime. <><

3/10/2011 10:16:42 am

You say this sooooooo well. You have a gift for writing, you should write a book. Jane x

3/10/2011 10:18:34 am

Ugh. Know this is going to be tough, but you and Jer and the kids are so strong. I know you'll get through it - again - and I hope that the time flies by quickly until he's home again and you're all back together. You have so many people... that love and support you and you know we'll all be here for you. Let's plan to do some fun stuff together and let me know what we can send to Jer when gets over there. I know time is short and you probably have tons of stuff to do before he goes, but we'd love to see you both again before he leaves, if you have any time left! Love love love to all 6 of you!And Jane is right; you should write a book. You know, in all your spare time - LOL! Seriously, though, you should!

3/10/2011 10:23:45 am

Trish, I cannot believe how strong you are! Is the same girl I went to school with? It's amazing how strong us "steel magnolias' really are. If you ever need a break up north, let me know. Our doors are always open!

3/10/2011 10:24:30 am

Trish, I wish we could be at the same base as we go through this...love you honesty, this is all so so true! thinking of you guys!

3/10/2011 11:47:37 am

This is a very good post. I wrote something along the same lines the other day, about the "homecomings." it was in response to that new tv show on Lifetime. I have been an army wife for almost 20 years, and I can't watch that show.

The state of grief is very true. Sitting around at manifest is like waiting for a funeral. We can't take it, and never hang around. We do our goodbyes in the parking lot.

3/10/2011 06:59:51 pm

Wow, I just realized I have been isolating for a year and had no idea I was grieving! Praying for you, your family and your soldier for a smooth, safe, quick deployment.

3/10/2011 08:21:10 pm

I feel each military families pain and hunger for the return of their loved one... I have been there & I have done all of what you have. Mine was in the Navy and though we divorced 2 years ago after 28yrs, I still appreciate him and his sacrifices for me. Through many years, as far back as being 5yo, I remember each family member who left for each duty they were called upon. The most fondest of memories were the days they came home. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and just remember, you are never really isolated or alone because there are many of us who, like you, had the hardest, most rewarding and one of the most elite job in the world..... being a military spouse & parent! May God's Angels keep each of you safe.

3/11/2011 03:03:37 am


3/21/2011 12:18:23 pm

wow. trish. this is such a painfully beautiful way to share with us just a hint of what you and others like you are constantly enduring. for our freedom. so grateful for your family and your soldier fighting on our behalf.


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