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How to Deal with Military Life Uncertainty During a Pandemic

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by Meg Flanagan

Movers were scheduled. Homecoming photographers were booked. Spring break was totally on track.

Until basically the whole world shut down and everything stopped.

Right now, everything is really up in the air and no one quite seems what’s happening next. Sounds kind of like military life all the time, huh?

But this time, it’s literally everyone, everywhere around the whole world. We’ve still got to keep on, keepin’ on with military life as we all collectively lose our sense of future planning.

It’s a lot to cope with, even when you’re used to handling the unexpected with grace.

We've never experienced anything like this before. But there are things we can do to cope. #militarylife #millife #military #milfam #militaryfamilies #pandemic #covid19 #coronavirus #epidemic #milspouse #milso #milspo #milsos #milspos #milspouses #militaryspouse #army #airforce #navy #marines #coastguard #arng #reserves

Honestly, this feels so much different than the normal military life changes. It feels big and scary and overwhelming.

Especially right now, when so much about military life is in flux for so many people. PCS orders are starting to be passed around and completed. Homecomings are scheduled. And some of us might have, finally, gotten military life and family life to balance out for an actual vacation!

Now, it’s all on hold and without a true end in sight. We’re expected to just, well, deal with it. How do you even begin to handle it when literally everything is marked as TBD?

1. Look for the rhyme behind the reason

We’ve been told to stay home, to limit contact with others, to isolate ourselves. Why? Honestly, it’s to protect the most vulnerable – something that the military community holds dear. 

We are a community that literally lives to serve: by protecting and defending, through volunteer work, holding each other up in trying times.

Yes, staying home or limiting your outings into the wider world is an inconvenience right now. However, it’s life or death for those with compromised immune systems or in high-risk populations.

To truly protect each other, we need to sacrifice personal comfort for the greater good. That’s why we’re sticking close to home and avoiding other people.

2.Look for the good

Yeah, it’s a pandemic. And that’s awful. There’s still good in the world out there. Take time every day to seek out and appreciate something good in your life.

Look for big and little ways that your life continues to be awesome:

  • Frozen 2 arrived early on Disney+
  • Your child’s laugh of joy upon discovering that there’s no school for practically forever
  • The way the sun shines through the window
  • Spring flowers blooming
  • Basically unlimited streaming options since you can’t leave the house

There’s so much to be grateful for! But most of all, take care of yourself and your health.

3. Vent to a friend

Yes, you had things planned. I get it. 

We’ve just canceled our much-anticipated spring vacation to New England. Instead of hanging with family for two weeks, we’ve called off hotel stays and are just waiting to see how the flights shakeout. 

Your things were big, bigger than family vacations or cool weekend plans. Homecomings. Deployments (although maybe you’re not mad it’s delayed…). Weddings.

We've never experienced anything like this before. But there are things we can do to cope. #militarylife #millife #military #milfam #militaryfamilies #pandemic #covid19 #coronavirus #epidemic #milspouse #milso #milspo #milsos #milspos #milspouses #militaryspouse #army #airforce #navy #marines #coastguard #arng #reserves

It sucks. It all sucks.

Everything is terrible. That one shining event was the only thing keeping you going… and now it’s maybe, probably, canceled until further notice.

Take a day or so. Grieve this loss, because that’s what it is– a loss. 

Call a friend. Vent out all of your anger and frustration in this safe space. Cry, scream, rage-sip your latte. And then breathe deeply and move forward. Acknowledge the suck, the loss, the grief. Then keep going, because you don’t really have a choice. It’s out of our control right now. Your event, given normal circumstances, would be happening. But we live in an abnormal moment.

4. Enjoy the now

Plans got changed, it’s not great. But also you have a great opportunity to enjoy small moments together. Go on walks outside in the fresh air, away from people. Cook family recipes and savor the familiar flavors. Schedule FaceTime or other video chats with friends and family. Watch new movies or rewatch old favorites. Hey, you’ve got nothing BUT time! Try a new hobby, maybe.

As awful as having everything up in the air is– and it’s not great– you’re still living this life. You don’t get this time back.

Honor your sadness and anger, and then get back to living life in semi-isolation. Because this pandemic requires additional safety measures.

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One Response

  1. Well said. All the best to you and yours. Fortunately my partner who is in the Royal Navy is currently shore based so we’re fortunate enough he can work from home. Though I’m a keyworker so still have to be exposed sadly. However we have a lot to be grateful for, our beautiful home we have, the ability to stay connected through video calls, the sun is still shining and the earth turning. Stay safe Jo and lots of love ❤️

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