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Brenna_o's avatar

My brother leaves for Afghanistan next month. How do I cope emotionally?

Asked by Brenna_o (1776points) August 18th, 2010

Him leaving is really hard on my whole family. My mom and I keep crying, and are constantly upset and worried about his safety… Is there anything that you think may help us out??

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10 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

Is there a military base nearby? If so find out what programs are available for family of deployed troops. If there is not a base close by, try the nearest National Guard unit.

Barring that, get involved with one of the many Support the Troops programs in the country.

FutureMemory's avatar

Try to remember that it’s a small percentage of troops that get killed or seriously injured.

Brenna_o's avatar

@WestRiverrat No bases with in 60miles.. And he is in the marines, not the national guard.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Shouldn’t matter. My cousin is also a Marine and his family is involved with a support group sponsored by their local Air Force reserve. They are in Michigan, so it is a long way to a Marine base for them.

If nothing else, the NG unit will be able to help you find the right people in your area to contact.

Seaofclouds's avatar

Before he leaves, make sure he has given his unit your contact information and your mom’s. They need to get that information from him so that they can keep you up to date while he is gone. In the Army, we have a group called that Family Readiness Group that helps the families and keeps them up to date. I know the Marines have something similar, but I forget it’s exact name.

I completely understand how you are feeling, it’s hard to not think about him leaving soon and little things will hit you and make you cry. For me, it was just sitting on the sofa with my husband before he left and I would think about how we wouldn’t be able to do that for the year he was gone. It’s really hard to not think about it, but it’s important to try not to dwell on it. Continue to do things as normal and try to do something special before he leaves. Remember that he has been trained for what he is about to do and that he will be with others that have been trained as well.

Once he leaves, you will get to count down the days until he comes home again. I have a calendar that I cross the days of off each day. Depending on where he goes, you should be able to send him care packages. How fast they get to him and what you can send depends on where he goes, but he should get that information for you. I try to send my husband a box every week (sometimes he’ll get 2 or 3 boxes at a time). I have sent about 50 care packages in the past 7 months. Planning the boxes helps pass time and it helps me feel like I’m doing something to help to take care of him while he’s gone. What he needs will depend on where he goes. Some places over there have shops for the necessities and others don’t.

One of the best things to do while he is gone is to keep busy. The busier you are, the faster the time will go by. If you don’t know any other families that have someone deploying, you could try getting in touch with his unit’s Chaplain to see if they can put you in touch with support groups or other families in your area.

I know it’s hard not to worry, but the saying “no news is good news” if very true when it comes to deployments. When things are going well, you may not hear from him because he will be busy with his mission. I’m sure you guys have probably already heard about OPSEC (and if not I’m sure you will). It’s important to remember not to give specific information to other people and definitely not to post it anywhere on the internet (like Facebook). Posting information could put his unit in danger and most of the time, it will cause dates to get changed (which can really get upsetting when it’s your homecoming date being pushed back because someone posted something they shouldn’t have). If you ever need someone to talk to, you can always message me through my profile. It’s nice to have someone to talk to that understands what you are going through.

marinelife's avatar

Try not to weigh your borther down with your worries—he has enough on his mind right now. You could use a support group. Look on the Internet for the nearest group that supports military families.

Make sure your brother has a laptop with a little camera and Skype. You get one too. That way you can keep in close touch with him.

Try not to dwell on what might go wrong. Instead, think positive thoughts about his deployment.

lillycoyote's avatar

I wish I had a good answer. This is one of those life circumstances where the only answer to How do I cope? Is: the best you can. There’s just no way you’re not going to miss him and there’s just no way you’re not going to worry about him. And all of the people above have given you good advice. There are a lot of people going through what your family is going through and military families of deployed personnel are pretty good at providing each other mutual support. And stay in touch, of course, the skype video calls are great, but even frequent, simple emails that just basically say “love you, miss you, stay safe” will probably help you both cope.

wundayatta's avatar

You say that it is the constant worrying about his safety that bothers you. And well it should. He’s not even gone yet, and you are worried. I don’t say that to tell you you are being silly or anything. I say that to point out that your feelings are not related to the facts on the ground, so-to-speak.

Your feelings of worry about his safety are something that you, to some degree, create for yourself. I am not telling you there is nothing to worry about. The reason why I am pointing this out is to show you that you have some control over these feelings. You can make yourself feel them. That means you don’t have to make yourself feel them.

How can you not be worried when the worry is real? The answer is that you can let the feelings be there, but not get hung up on them. It is natural to worry. However, it doesn’t have to turn your life into one long worry-fest that makes it hard for you to do anything else.

Let yourself worry. Then let the worry go. You are powerless over it. It’s like a comet coming towards the earth. There’s nothing you can do about it. However, you don’t have to grab onto that worry and fear and turn it into something that fills your life and is always there forever.

Let it go. Don’t get attached to it.

That’s not so easy, though. One thing that can help with this, believe it or not, is breathing. When you start to worry, remind yourself to concentrate on your breath. Focus on taking long breaths in and letting it out exactly at the same pace as you took it in. Then, while breathing, gently turn your attention to the task at hand. If there is no task at hand, then the task is to count your breaths and to find a calming place to sit.

Then you pay attention to what is going on around you. Feel the position of your body. Notice how the air is blowing. Is there sun on your face? Is the air thick? Just pay attention while breathing. In this way, you can calm yourself and slow your heartbeat and let your worries go wherever it is they go when you let them go. You can imagine them as being attached to slowly deflating balloons that slide down over the cliff and out of your sight.

There are other things you can do, too. Keep on doing your work. Eat regularly. Sleep regularly. Do yoga or other exercise regularly.

Your feelings are real. You don’t have to hold onto them and you don’t have to let them rule your life.

JilltheTooth's avatar

My nephew is a Marine in Afghanistan and and we all have the worry simmering right under the surface. I learned a trick that has helped me. When it starts to come to the fore, I put up a big mental STOP sign and immediately think of something innocuous, like the dog, or cooking or something. It sounds too simple, but it works for me. My sister, his mom, has told me she does similar things. Good luck, and remember the Marines are better trained than almost everybody! Semper Fi!

amazingme's avatar

I am going through the exact same thing. My brother left for Afghanistan in early March and I can remember my mom crying all the time.
However, we are coping very well now. I would like to recommend something like Skype, but the internet is always ‘iffy’ out there, and where my brother is at, it is about $100 per month.
Sending out boxes with things to be your brother entertained like books, dvds -we even sent him oreos one time.
I agree with @Seaofclouds completely. Especially on the “no news is good news”. And on the keeping busy. Even though it was March when my brother left, it doesn’t feel that long. We’re very lucky though because his wife is pregnant with their third child so he gets to come home next week for one week.

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