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Coping With The Holidays During Separation

The stress of the holidays may have you feeling a little down, especially if you're away from your loved ones. Since we're a military family, I've learned a few things about coping with the holidays during separation that helped me through some hard times. - The Kreative Life

This year I’ve been so excited about the holidays! I’m always excited about Thanksgiving because of the food, Christmas because of the gifts I get my babies, and the New Year because it means new beginnings. Well, this year is a little (ok, a lot) more special than the past few years.

Since we’re a military family, I’ve learned a few things about coping with the holidays during separation.

Let me start from the beginning (insert flashback here).

My husband and I met when we were both in the Army, so we dealt with quite a few separations and deployments. Times were particularly difficult over the holidays when we weren’t together.

After dating for two years, we got married. He deployed shortly after. He was able to come home to visit for two weeks during his deployment.

Since I knew he only had a short time of being home, I planned every single holiday of the year within two weeks. Every day he woke up our house was decorated with a different holiday theme.

It took a lot of work to keep it a surprise since I had to decorate while he was sleep, but it was very much worth it because it helps to keep the romance in our marriage.

Coping With The Holidays During Separation - The Kreative Life

Coping With The Holidays During Separation - The Kreative Life

Coping With The Holidays During Separation - The Kreative Life

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Two days after Thanksgiving and two days before he had to go back for his deployment, we found out we were pregnant with our first baby. That was the first time my husband wasn’t able to spend Christmas with me.

The following year, we were able to spend the holidays together because he was back from deployment. However, the year after that my husband was going to be deployed again.

This time we found out two months (on my oldest son’s first birthday, to be exact) before his deployment that I was pregnant again. My husband left in October, so he wasn’t here for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

We were in Colorado away from our family, but luckily my family was able to travel that year to spend time with us over Christmas.

Coping With The Holidays During Separation - The Kreative Life

Coping With The Holidays During Separation - The Kreative Life

My husband came back from deployment two weeks before our new baby was due.

We moved to Virginia for six months and then my husband came up on orders to Korea, so we decided it was best for us that the boys and I relocate to Miami while he was gone since we’re retiring here.

He left right before Christmas, so again, I was in a new city with a 6 month old and a 2 year old and no family over the holidays.

Coping With The Holidays During Separation - The Kreative Life

He was gone for 2 ½ years and was only able to come back every six months to visit. That meant that almost every birthday or holiday, I had to prepare for by myself.

Christmas was the worst!

Every year of our marriage, except one year, I had to put up and take down the tree and decorations myself. One year I was so depressed after the holidays, that I left it up until January 30th.

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This year (yes, the flashback is over) he’s finally back in Florida! He was here for my oldest son’s birthday, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and he’ll be here for the New Year!

I can finally take a break and relax a little. It’s good having him home and having my family complete over the holidays! From all of the separations, I’ve learned a few things.

Coping With The Holidays During Separation - The Kreative Life

Coping With The Holidays During Separation

  1. Keep Family Traditions – Even if your loved one can’t be there, it helps to keep the flow of things if you follow through with traditions. If you all eat takeout on Christmas Eve, then eat takeout on Christmas Eve. If you visit pumpkin patches every year and love the hayrides, don’t miss out on those!
  2. Email, Call, or Write as Often as Possible – The holidays are supposed to bring everyone closer, but it’s difficult when your loved one is so far away. Even if they can’t respond to your mail or take your calls everyday, contacting them and keeping open communication will help ease some of the loneliness you may feel especially if you have no friends or family near. It will also help them know that you’re thinking about them just as much as they’re thinking about you.
  3. Have a Support System – One of the things that helped get me through some lonely times was being able to pick up my phone and call my parents, sisters, and close friends who know exactly how it feels to be away during deployments for the holidays. If you’re military, there usually are military spouse groups who offer a lot of support. Miami definitely doesn’t have a huge military presence, so it was a little challenging to find people who understood why my husband was gone for so long without feeling sorry for us, but I was able to build a support system that really has helped me out in some tough times.

Have you dealt with any family separations over the holidays? How are you coping with the holidays during separation?

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23 Comments

  1. Without feeling sorry for you all? How could anyone not have sympathy during long extended periods of time without your spouse and the father of your children? I’m so glad you were together as a complete family this year. I still live in the same area I was raised in and couldn’t imagine anything else.

  2. I used to live in another state as my husband and it was always hard! I’m happy you powered through it! Happy NYE hopefully 2018 is wonderful!

  3. I cannot even image being apart from my husband for so long. I admire military wives for their strength and resilience. I have never been separated from my family over the holidays. I have been with my mother every Christmas of my life. My husband and I make an effort to spend Christmas with my family. I don’t think my mom is ready to not be with me on Christmas. Honestly, I don’t think I want to be away from her. 😉

  4. What a great story. It’s hard to be separated for the big stuff. My dad was deployed for my college graduation and we celebrated when he got home. Like you said – write/call as much as possible. You are so very strong. Happy holidays.

  5. I totally feel your pain about being separated during those special moments. It’s not an easy thing. As a fellow military wife, I think these are great tips. My support system was key for me.

  6. I am sure this definitely was not easy, but those are some great coping mechanisms. I must say the first holidays without someone is always hard so I definitely could have used these. Thank you for sharing.

  7. I bet this is very difficult and I’m sorry to anyone who has to go through this but It’s so great that you have written about this to help others.

  8. So many people I know cope with the hard holidays rather than look forward to it; you are doing a great job with making the most of what you can; thank you for sharing from your heart.

  9. This post is so sweet! I can feel your joy and excitement for being together these holidays, and I can understand what it is going through all those Holidays alone! I have never had that experience of separation with my husband, but I am an expat, and being far from my family (parents, brother, sister, nephews and nieces, close friends) has always been hard for me. I know it is not the same thing, but in Southamerica family is very important, you never really leave the nest, you make it larger! It is a different culture, and I know my absence during the holidays is a small void in my mother’s heart. I miss her so much.I was away when my grandma passed, I wasn’t there for my mum’s 60th bday, My sis had a baby girl on December 14th, she will be over one year old when I will be finally able to finally hold her in my arms… it is so hard to miss the important moments of the people you love and to know that you are being greatly missed.