4 Ways to Comfort Extended Military Family Members

During National Stress Awareness Month, remember the grandparents, aunts and uncles and cousins of those who serve.

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Posted in , Apr 12, 2018

Comforting someone

Truthfully, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t struggle with stress. But since April is National Stress Awareness Month, I wanted to highlight a community that deals with a particular kind of stress—extended military family members. On this blog I talk a lot about the pressures and challenges military members and their immediate families face. But the extended families also deal with a considerable amount of stress.

When our son was deployed, it was also hard on his grandparents and my sister who were very close to him. And because our son wasn’t married and we didn’t live on or near the base where he was stationed, his father and I also fell into the no-man’s-land of extended family. 

I don’t know how we’d have all managed if it hadn’t been for the faith community surrounding us. There were four things they did that really helped:

1)  They prayed for our son.
They added him to prayer lists, sent him letters and cards, and let us know that they were actively praying.

2)  They gave us the opportunity to talk about our son.
They asked how he was, where he was, and for details of his life. It helped so much to be able to share what was going on with someone we loved. 

3)  They kept trying even when we backed away.
One of the common coping mechanisms of those with a loved one who’s serving is the bunker mentality. We tend to hunker down and refuse to lift our heads when life gets too stressful. Our friends kept the invitations coming even when we declined several in a row.

4)  They didn’t engage in political debate.
We all have strong feelings about what our country’s role should be in foreign conflicts. But those who cared about us stayed focused on the face of war, not the politics of war.

These all may seem like minor things, but they’re not. They are a lifeline for anyone who has someone they love in the military. Even now, I try to pay attention to those around me who might have a family member serving. I’ll never forget what others did for my extended family to help us cope with our stress, and I try to honor their kindness by paying it forward. 

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