MFLC Tips for Holiday SeparationsPosted by: CMS Webhelp 1 year, 7 months ago
Being away from loved ones during the holiday season can be agonizing. In addition to the usual excitement (and stress) that accompany this time of year, families who are apart from their servicemember often experience additional feelings of loneliness, sadness, and frustration. While knowing that all of these feelings are normal and to be expected, here are some holiday tips to help during this season:
- As a family, write a handwritten letter to your servicemember including all the ways they are loved and appreciated. Encourage young children to express themselves by drawing pictures.
- Have your servicemember record a reading of a favorite holiday book/story and send it to your child.
- Stay in touch through email, skype, and social media.
- Assemble a special holiday care package for your servicemember including letters, photos, special treats, and small holiday decorations.
- Continue to keep up traditions and be open to creating new ones. (Remember, maintaining consistency and structure can especially help younger children.)
- Rejuvenate emotionally by getting involved in volunteer opportunities in the community.
- Visit family or friends during holidays to surround yourself with loved ones.
- Have a potluck party with other deployed families.
- Include your servicemember in your holiday greeting card. Have service member take a picture with “Seasons” and the rest of the family with “Greetings” and combine for a special holiday card to share.
- Open gifts over video chat and make it a virtual holiday.
- Seek out special events in the community- tree lightings, caroling adventures, cookie exchanges.
- Flexible holiday dates- some families save holiday celebrations for when deployed service member returns.
Remember the importance of SELF CARE:
- Discuss feelings of loneliness and sadness with close family and trusted friends. Encourage children to identify and share feelings related to the missing parent.
- Ask for help- if your support network is there- use it!
- Connect with other military spouses/families who can relate. Spending time with others who are in a similar circumstance can help validate the difficulties of being separated during the holiday season.
- Give yourself permission to feel. It’s okay to let yourself feel sad for a bit and have a good cry AND it’s okay to enjoy the holidays while your service member is gone.
- Let go of the idea of the “perfect” holiday.
- Try saying “yes” to invites from others. Even if you only attend an event for an hour, it can promote good mental health by continuing to be connected to others.