Ways to Cope While They're Away

Having a loved one sent to war can be difficult for those left behind. These five tips will help you stay positive.

By Sara Horn

WEB EXCLUSIVE

Going about daily life while a family member is sent off to war can be very difficult not to mention intensely stressful. Marci Seither’s youngest son had a hard time in school after his older brother was deployed; my world was changed when my husband was assigned to Iraq. But no matter how hard it seems, there are things you can do to ease your worries. Try these suggestions. They helped me and other families I know stay connected and calmer.

1. Turn stress into support.
Have fun putting together care packages and writing letters to your son or daughter, spouse or sibling. The best thing you can do for both of you is to let them know they're missed and keep them connected with what's happening at home.

2. Send pictures.
Sharing photos of the family at special events and just everyday moments will lift their spirits.

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3. Keep a countdown for homecoming.
Using two large glass jars and marbles, mark one as “Days to Go” and one as “Almost Home.” Add one marble for every day your service member is expected away in the “Days to Go” jar (It's also smart to add extra just in case.) and transfer a marble each day to the other jar. This is a great visual way to see time pass. Every three months or so, take a picture of the jars and send it to your deployed loved one so they can see it too!

4. Connect with other parents of deployed service members.
Start a support group at your church or go online and join one of the many forums, websites and blogs on the web. I would recommend:

  1. Military OneSource, a program that provides resources and support to active-duty, National Guard and Reserve service members and their families anywhere in the world;
  2. Military Ministry, serving military members, veterans, and families through direct ministry and partnerships with chaplains, churches and organizations to help build spiritual strength; and
  3. Faith Deployed, a site created as an extension of Jocelyn Green’s book, Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives, as a way to continue offering encouragement, strength, community and hope to the heroes at home.

5. If your deployed son or daughter is married, let the spouse know you are ready to help.
Call and check in with them. Be reserved, however, about talking out your fears or worries for your child's safety. They have enough concerns to deal with. Instead, use a friend or other family member for those specific conversations.
 

Sara Horn covered stories in Iraq as a journalist during the first year of the war. In 2007, her husband was deployed, which led her to reach out to others coping with loved ones in the military. She is now the director of external relations for the College of Christian Studies at Anderson University and  the author of God Strong and the Bible study, Tour of Duty, both released in 2010. Visit her websites, sarahorn.com and wivesoffaith.org.

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