Wednesday, October 2, 2013

7 Ways to Deal with Bad News During Deployment

photo credit: sshingler via photopin cc
This was written in response to the fact that every deployment my husband went on was extended but it works for a lot of different types of bad news, so give it a try.

My Bad News: Extensions 

One of the worst things I think I ever experienced as a Navy Wife was the dreaded phone call or email that included the words “cruise has been extended.” The only other thing that was worse was getting another email a month or so later with the words “cruse has been extended . . . again.”

This is one of the most difficult things any Navy Wife or Girlfriend will go through and unfortunately, almost every single one will experience it. It’s extremely common to have a deployment extended. Every deployment my husband has ever gone on has been extended.

It's so common, that I started to mentally plan for it to happen. If they say he’s coming home in June, I'd plan for him to be back in October. Mentally preparing for him to come home like two months later meant that when I found out the deployment was extended, I was still upset, but not as much because in my mind I was already expecting it. The worst outcome in this scenario would be that he would come home when he was supposed to and for me it would feel like it was early.

But most either cannot trick themselves into mentally preparing that way or just don’t think to try to do that, so how to you cope?

I don’t know about anyone else, but for me the denial stage rushes by after I say “no” over and over for about 60 seconds because there’s really no denying it. Then comes anger so . . .

1. SCREAM. CRY. HIT SOMETHING . . . something soft

Seriously, you have every freaking right in the world to be PISSED, DEVASTATED, FUMING. Feel that feeling. Don’t push it down or away, saying you should be strong. #$%^#% that! This is strong. Screaming is strong! Crying is strong! Smashing something you didn’t want anyway is being strong!

*NOTE: Never rage at your Sailor even though it is often the first reaction. If you have to, don't even write him back until you've calmed down or if it's on the phone, ask him to give you some time and to call you later.
photo credit: BrittneyBush via photopin cc
If you have kids around, I personally say don’t wait until they are gone. Just freak out into a pillow. You can rage quietly but rage strong! Or call a neighbor or family member to come take the kids for while so you can have some time to be upset openly. Honestly, you deserve a little break from parenting and some time alone after this kind of news anyway.

2. Vent to Your Support System

Okay now that, that is it out. You need to vent. Call your support system. Is that your best friend or your mom or sister? Your neighbor? If it’s somebody in your town, even better. Have them come over. But as soon as you can, call the person who you can bitch and cry to and who can tell you how awesome you are and how strong you are. Because you might feel like you can't do this, but you can. You are doing it already. Just feeling upset about it is doing it. You are already being strong!

3. Support Your Sailor

Once you’ve got as much anger and frustration out of your system, that’s probably a good time to write your Sailor back, before the depression settles in. Just make sure you respond to your Sailor with some words of love, encouragement, and understanding. Never rage at your Sailor even though you want to. He or she didn’t want this either, and he or she is probably just as upset as you are and needs to know you are okay.

4. Distract and Reward

Soon, the depression is going to settle in. Distraction is key and treating yourself is a great way to distract. Not to mention, you deserve a reward for going through this crap. Since I don’t have children and I never had friends while he was deployed, I usually went out and got some food I didn’t usually eat like fast food and then a brownie or you know - a cake - for desert. I’d usually get a movie, something funny to distract me. If you have girlfriends, I definitely say go have a girls night. If you have children, they are going to be upset too and needing a distraction as well. I say do something that is fun for all of you guys. Go to a movie or out to dinner. Go to a pet store! 

5. Find Your Power Inspiration

Find something, anything, that makes you feel powerful and strong. Something that embodies a feeling of strength for you. It could be a memory of something you did that was really awesome. It could be an image of someone else doing something strong. It could be a movie scene, book, or song. I usually chose a song. Find something that makes your feel powerful and strong and listen to it or watch it or think about it over and over during this period of time. Think about it that strength and visualize you having that strength and powering through and surviving this deployment. Mine song right now would be Katy Perry's Roar. 

6. Strong Women Face Their Feelings

At some point, you are going to need to feel the sadness. Distraction is good so you don't have to drown in your feelings but at some point for a short period of time, let yourself embrace them. A good time for me is right before I go to sleep that first night because there will be a cut off point of me feeling when I fall asleep. Again, I think it’s really important to let yourself feel these feelings at least in small doses. If you don’t let yourself feel them, they will stick around for a longer period of time. Cry again, rage again if you need to. Feel it and remind yourself that this is what strength looks like, this is what strength feels like.

7. Move on Strong

The next day will be a new day. Get back to your routines ASAP! Don’t take a second day off or keep moping. Get back to your life, to your projects, to your job, or to your classes, get back to being busy and getting through deployment. Maybe even add an additional project to your plate to compensate for the extra deployment time. Remember, you still might be angry or sad for a little while but you can’t do anything about it or about the extension other than survive it. Keep treating yourself as long as you need, keep using your power inspiration and keep crying for as long as you need . . . because strong women cry.
photo credit: Toni Blay 
via photopin cc
More Resources:

I know a lot of you have gone through this at least once. What do you do to cope? What do you do to help your children cope? Remember your advice is helping the women who read this blog. For many, my advice won’t be enough. They need yours too!!!

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About Stephanie Carroll
U&E Founder & Author
Buy Her Book A White Room!
Photo by Randy Enriquez
I dated and married my husband in 2004 when I was 19. I felt like an outsider for the first half of our marriage. He didn't understand what I needed to know about the Navy, and I didn't know what to ask.

After ten years of learning in the Navy, I founded Unhinged & Empowered. I wanted to spread the knowledge that I needed when I was new, to reveal what took years for me to learn.   
Cover Design by Jenny Q
In addition to being a Navy Wife, I am also a novelist. I write historical women's fiction.

My first novel A White Room debuted in 2013 and is about a woman forced to sacrifice her own ambitions of becoming a nurse to marry a man who can save her destitute family. He moves her to a strange, small town where she slowly succumbs to madness until she stumbles on an opportunity to nurse to the poor despite the fact that her husband prosecutes unlicensed practitioners.

Learn more at and connect with me @CarrollBooks on Twitter, Facebook, or on Pinterest!

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