As a military spouse (or military child), you come to expect (dread and accept) saying goodbye to your active duty loved one for long periods of time. This is where you lean on friends and family to help you get through the long separations. They can help you stay busy or provide their company on the days you are feeling down. How do you turn the tables and say goodbye to those supportive friends PCSing across the country?
I have said goodbye to two of my very closest friends in the matter of one week. So far in my relatively short military life of six years, I have had the amazing luck to have been stationed with the same two outstanding women for four of those years. I got comfortable; I leaned on them almost exclusively. They have been here for me through deployments and detachments. We have shared tears, laughs and they have been part of every significant life event for the past four years. They were some of the first people to hold my baby girl. Now with just a one month notice, they are gone. How does one cope being left behind?
I think the first step is really saying goodbye. This means you cannot be in denial about their impending move. I tried this at first, but quickly realized I needed to spend as much time with these friends as I could before they left. Second, be selfless. Focus on the wonderful things this move will do for your friends and how it will affect his/her family. One of my friend’s husbands got his dream job and the other will now be hours from family instead of across the country. It was difficult to not sneak in, “please don’t go, I will miss you so much” and instead say, “what an amazing opportunity, how wonderful to see a new place, how exciting to make new friends…”. Share your feelings, but do so in a positive way. Focus on the likelihood that with this crazy military life you may be lucky enough to be stationed together again.
I found it cathartic to write a letter to the future friends of the friend I was bidding adieu. (She also wrote me a letter which I will cherish forever). Here is a small excerpt:
“Dear future friend of Amanda,
You are one lucky woman. I hate to see her go to Virginia, but have to admit I am glad she will be closer to her family and excited for all of the lives she will impact and make better, like she has done with mine. As her friend, here are a few things you can look forward to:
-Unwavering support through whatever you are going through. She is a cheerleader when you are down, a partner in crime for any adventure, the best listener you will ever meet and is ALWAYS putting others before herself. During our husbands 9m deployment she spent much of it checking on ME and making sure I was OK. She is truly selfless.
- She will greatly increase the amount of friends you have. She has never met a stranger or someone who hasn't instantly fell in love with her sweet southern charm.
I could write a novel about all of the wonderful things about Amanda. She will surprise you every day with her capacity for generosity and love. ….”
I have also found stepping out of my comfort zone to be helpful, for instance I'm participating in new activities and volunteering with new groups. I have asked to become more involved in the small groups at church and I’m attending a new moms group for the first time today (wish me luck!).
How have you coped when your friends have PCSed and left you behind? Any advice you can share to make the pain of saying goodbye to friends any easier? I could use all the advice I can get!
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