Preparing Your Family and Friends for the First Few Weeks of Deployment
The thought of just preparing yourself and your children, if you have them, will bring you tears and frustration.
As a matter of fact, it is pretty common to assume your friends and family should be looking for ways to comfort and prepare you.
But understand this - out of sheer ignorance, your friends and family will need your help in order to best help you.
Simply put, you will need to manage your comfort and help and not rely on your friends and family to manage it for you.
Jody, who was interviewed for our project, shared how family and friends were quick to offer support the first week her husband was deployed.
But shortly after, within two weeks, the support seemed to diminish and by the end of the month, there was only one person who called her on a weekly basis.
She knew it wasn't because they weren't sympathetic, it's just that they didn't know what she needed and they got caught up in their own lives.
Interview after interview revealed that friends and family will likely need very little coaching or reminding of your needs or situation when you or your spouse first deploys.
It's the weeks and months after the first couple of weeks where they may need help.
You must prepare them for the longevity of the deployment.
Here are several suggestions, found to be effective by Jody and others with deployed spouses, to help prepare your network on ways they can stay connected to you and help you throughout the deployment:
- Remind your network and TELL your network how they can stay connected beyond the first two weeks.
Let them know the best way to reach you and stay in touch, whether it is email, phone, IM, letters, etc.
- Let your network know that it would be a great help if someone offered to take your children to school occasionally.
This will provide you a little "me time" in the morning as well as keep an outside influence around your children.
- Tell one of your friends or a family member - preferably one you like to associate with - to put you on his or her call list once a week.
The "just calling to say hi" was a welcome call to Jody.
- If someone is a great cook, ask if they are open to making double the amount of food and putting you down as a recipient.
But as Jody clearly stated, "they just don't know how to help, so tell them.
" These are just a few things you can pass along to your network to help them prepare themselves to help you as a spouse of someone deployed.
Remember, take an active role in how your friends and family can help you; by doing so, this difficult time will seem less difficult.