Blog Archive

7.13.2010

The emotional cycle of deployment

*Note* Highlighted is where I currently am and it's pretty darn accurate. Oh, how I hate you deployment.

The information in this section has been adapted from “The Emotional Cycle of Deployment” by Kathleen Vestal Logan, Proceedings, February 1987 and “Mission Readiness and Stress Management”, United Nations Secretariat, New York, 1995.


Stage 1—Anticipation of Loss (1-6 Weeks Prior to Deployment)


Common Reactions:


1. Fluctuation in energy level and mood
2. Fantasizing
3. Feelings of sadness, anger, excitement, restlessness, anxiety, tension, frustration, resentment, depression

General Suggestions:


1. Allow yourself to feel and express your full range of emotional responses
2. Encourage all family members to share their feelings
3. Reassure your partner of your love and commitment
4. Involve the whole family in preparing for the separation
5. Create opportunities for warm, lasting memories
6. Try to see the deployment as an opportunity for growth
7. Remember that the deployment is not forever
8. Go through the readiness checklist with partner


For Spouse Departing:
1. Share honestly all you can about the deployment
2. Choose favorite family photos to take with you
3. Make a list of important family occasions; take cards with you
4. Record tapes of yourself reading favorite children’s stories
5. Participate in mission readiness activities for yourself and your family
6. Assist with household and auto maintenance




For Spouse Staying:

1. Take photos of your spouse doing routine activities
2. Build a solid support network for yourself
3. Set realistic goals for yourself for the deployment period
4. Have concrete, written plans for an unexpected family crisis


Stage 2—Detachment and Withdrawal (Last Week Prior to Deployment)


Common Reactions:

1. Reduced emotional and sexual intimacy
2. Feelings of despair, hopelessness, impatience, numbness


General Suggestions:

1. Accept your feelings as normal reactions to challenging circumstances, and not signs of rejection
2. Communicate openly and honestly as possible
3. Be patient with yourself, your partner, your children
4. Discuss budget, again and again


For Spouse Departing:

1. Complete your packing and preparation early so the last day and evening can be family time
2. Accept your excitement about the assignment as natural and normal, without expecting your family to share your feeling
3. Make a big deal out of putting children’s pictures in your wallet and placing your picture in their room


For Spouse Staying:

1. Try to take good care of yourself—nutrition, sleep, exercise, hobbies, social support
2. Ignore rumors, try to rely on official sources of information concerning the departure and the assignment
3. Complete lists of “what to do” and “who to call”


Stage 3: Emotional Disorganization (First Weeks After Deployment)


Common Reactions:

1. Sleep and appetite disturbances
2. Feelings of relief, guilt, anger, numbness, depression, confusion, disorganization, indecision, loneliness, vulnerability, irritability, aimlessness
3. Magical thinking (wishful thinking; using charms or rituals)


General Suggestions:

1. Communicate—keep in touch about everyday events and share your feelings to maintain the emotional bond; fill in details left unsaid or undone when your spouse deployed
2. Date and number your letters so that your spouse can read them in sequence
3. Try to end phone calls on a positive note—it may be a long wait before the next call


For Spouse Deployed:

1. Write separate letters to your children periodically
2. Share as much information as you can about your daily life and work


For Spouse at Home:

1. Maintain the healthy self-care practices you established before the departure; try to eat and sleep sensibly
2. Participate in a support group, whether formal or informal; do not become isolated
3. Help your children express their feelings and stay in touch with their absent parent



Stage 4: Recovery and Stabilization (Variable Duration Between Stages 3 and 5)


Common Reactions:

1. Concern that your partner is coping so well that you are no longer needed
2. Feelings of increased confidence, independence, competence, freedom, pride, isolation, anxiety, depression


General Suggestions:

1. Expressions of love are important; reflect on treasured moments together
2. Enjoy new skills, freedom and independence
3. Celebrate signs of positive growth in self, partner, children
4. Offer empathy and support to family, friends, colleagues in need


For Spouse Deployed:

1. Maintain regular contact with family—mail (letters, tapes, gifts), phone calls, faxes, e-mail, etc
2. Participate in formal debriefings following critical incidents
3. Confide in trusted colleagues, clergy


For Spouse at Home:

1. Share your feelings of pride and self-confidence, reassuring your partner that you still long for the separation to end
2. Encourage and assist your children to keep the absent parent a vital part of the family
3. Share ideas for care packages with other spouses in support groups


Stage 5: Anticipation of Homecoming (Last Weeks of Deployment)


Common Reactions:

1. Increased energy and activity
2. Sleep and appetite disturbances
3. Feelings of joy, excitement, anxiety, apprehension, restlessness, impatience


General Suggestions:

1. Share your feelings of apprehension as well as excitement and joy
2. Share your expectations and desires for the homecoming
3. Reassure your partner of your love and commitment
4. Include your children in planning for the homecoming celebration
5. Plan to have some family time with the children before the “honeymoon”


For Spouse Deployed:

1. Pass on only officially confirmed information about your return (date, time, location) to your family
2. Participate in preparation for reunion activities (briefings, discussions), if offered
3. Expect the unexpected; kids grow, hairstyles change.; decisions were made without the usual discussion; avoid making judgments


For Spouse at Home:

1. Ignore rumors and try to wait patiently for official date, time, location information for your partner’s return
2. Participate in any preparation for reunion activities (briefings, celebrations) that might be available


Stage 6: Renegotiation of Relationships (First 6 Weeks After Homecoming)


Common Reactions:

1. Difficulty re-establishing emotional and sexual intimacy
2. Feelings of excitement, disorganization, resentment, frustration
3. Grieving over loss of freedom and independence


General Suggestions:

1. Ease back into a family system gradually; all of you have changed
2. Avoid the impulse to shower each other with expensive gifts and fancy meals—stick to your budget
3. Communicate as openly and honestly as possible—accept your feelings as normal and not a threat to the relationship
4. Be patient with yourself and your partner
5. Renegotiate your roles and responsibilities—the workload can again be shared, but perhaps in a new way; it takes time and effort to re-establish a “joint command” household
6. Celebrate together the personal growth each has achieved during the separation
7. Continue to participate in support group/network
8. Seek professional counseling (clergy, social worker, doctor, psychologist) for continuing signs of critical incident stress, or other concerns

3 comments:

Erin Wallace said...

This has to be so difficult. I know several people who have given birth while their spouses were deployed - just so difficult.

Here for the Friday Follows - now following you! Hope to see you at Dropped Stitches!

xo Erin
droppedstitches72.blogspot.com

Carmen said...

I know this is so difficult for you. Just enjoy the time you have with him right now and once he leaves you can count down until he comes home again! Stay strong and if you need anything, let me know =)

Brittany Sommer said...

Thanks ladies :) I have my days where I just sit and think about it but that's only when he isn't here. He is going to be here a LOT for the next couple of weeks so I wont be thinking too much about everything, thank God! I appreciate the support :)