Stages of Separation

Man with baby

Stages of Separationline

There is no denying that the military lifestyle, especially unexpected deployments, can cause disruption. Feelings associated with separation commonly occur in stages. As service members prepare to deploy and leave, military spouses they may experience the following emotions.

  • Denial, shock, disbelief, and numbness;
  • Anger over the situation, frustration with preparation demands, guilty feelings about the spouse’s departure, and resentment of the military, spouse, and job;
  • Guilt for not saying or doing more before deployment;
  • Depression, intense sadness, fatigue, loss of appetite, and withdrawal from routine; or
  • Realization and acceptance of the situation, resolve to continue on positively, confidence in handling day-to-day living, and awareness of increased self-esteem and personal abilities.

Knowing these feelings are normal can help families cope. Although these stages occur in a universal order, a number of causes can trigger setbacks to previous stages. Individual situations and types of deployment can influence the intensity and duration of each stage.