Seven years ago I stood in the rain at Kliever Armory in Tigard hugging my husband as a painful Band-Aid was slowly ripped from my psyche. We had prepared for this moment and I had been holding my breath for months hoping it would be easier. My husband was taking the first of two steps before he deployed to Afghanistan and this was our last night together before he went to Camp Shelby, Mississippi. We had gone out for dinner and pretended like everything was OK but I felt as though I had been punched in the stomach and was trying to hide it.
We stood in the rain and I don’t remember what we said but I made a dumb excuse to leave because I really couldn’t deal with the pain of the Band Aid. We kissed, made dumb excuses and I got in my car and drove away. I’m really not sure how I got home because someone had taken a can opener to my soul and exposed it to the rain. I cried. A lot. I came home and cried and I cried for at least two days after that. It was not a fun time.
As I dealt with the deployment, I found myself fighting many battles in my head including the stoic part that insisted everything was fine and I should just suck it up. I finally gave in and made an appointment with counselor, Betti. I remember going in and talking to her and telling her what was going on and how hard of a time I was having. The first thing she said when I was done was, “Well, you have gone through a tragedy.”
I sat there with my mouth gaping open ready to argue with her and realized, yes, I had gone through a tragedy. I would like to tell you the clouds parted and the unicorns galloped into Portland bringing rainbows and cheer but it what did happen put the whole ordeal into perspective and allowed me to grieve properly. No, Ian wasn’t dead, but who really enjoys sending their spouses off to war?
I haven’t really written about Ian’s deployment much on this blog because it’s not something I like to talk about at social gatherings or parties. But recently on A Closer Look Radio, Pam interviewed Russell Friedman a grief recovery expert and the author of the Grief Recovery Handbook and Moving beyond Loss. Russell talked openly and honestly about the recovery process and why we tend to react poorly to grief and why being strong during a time of grief is the worst possible thing to do. As I listened to the interview I thought back to the deployment wishing I had known about Russell and read his books. It would have made things a lot more bearable.
The interview also gave me a better perspective on grief and how to handle it when my friends and family are dealing with a loss. Not just a loss of a relative or pet but the loss of a job and our perceived future. Think about how you feel when you lose a job and how painful it is the grieving process you go through. Think about all the dumb things you have said when a friend or family member was in pain and how you could have said something differently. Pam’s interview with Russell is a must listen for anyone with a pulse or a conscious. Here’s a link to the interview.
You have the time to listen.