One of our neighbors is in the Army Reserves and will be leaving for a 9 month tour of duty in Afghanistan. As neighbors we want to be supportative of him and his wife and 3 young children. What can we do for their family while he is away serving our country?
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Some of the followers of Wisdom of the Wounded offer the following ideas to those individuals whose spouse/father is in the military and away from home:
Suggestions from Karen:
The girl that grew up next door to us has been going through this. I usually talk to her once a week, and some of her friends do really nice things for her: They have helped her with car pooling her kids, and have invited her kids to dinner, but not her, so she had some time off. Two of her friends took her on a special weekend outing for her wedding anniversary, and her mom took take care of her kids. One of their guy friends takes their two sons out about every other week to do “guy stuff”. When Tim has a Skype phone call, one of her friends comes over to entertain the kids; so, Heather has some time to talk to Tim alone after the kids have talked to him.
Suggestions from Jeri Mulder:
I saw once a “prayer chain.” A family made a link for every day the dad/husband was going to be gone, and each day was a promise of God’s grace. They hung it all around the house and took off one link each day until he came home. It gave them something to do and was a visual reminder of how many more days before dad would be home.
Below are ways to help a parent handle the long list daily jobs they are handling on their own while their spouse is away:
Laundry duty: Offer to do the laundry. If you have time offer a “pick-up and delivery” perk.
Grocery shopping: Offer to do the grocery shopping. Slip a surprise in one of the grocery bags; like, a gallon of ice cream with 3 toppings or chips and salsa or a pizza.
Meal Planning: If a group from her church or neighborhood is interested check out
the website: http://takethemameal.com/. This is a great website packed with ideals for
scheduling, menus, recipes and other ways to show you care.
Pack school lunches for kids: When one parent is in charge of everything, packing school lunches for a week or more is such a blessing. (Check with the mom on what items the children like and dislike.) Again if you can spread out this responsibility among many individuals, it will not be a burden for anyone.
Be a “Handy Man:” get someone handy to come over every 2 weeks to do a running “honey do” list of stuff that breaks or needs replacing. What a wonderful gift this would be!
Send children fun care packages with snacks & a small toy or activity or book.
Offer to help carpool once a week or more.
Help them keep a photo journal of everyday activities for the spouse who is away; so, when he or she returns they will have a review of all they missed, and can get caught up.
For The One Serving… send him/her care packages, updates from home (local newspaper, church bulletin) beef jerky, chewing gum, dice or cards, photos of their family at home, pictures of local happenings (buildings going up, new restaurants, road construction, simple things like local parks, ice cream joints etc), things to bring “home” to them – a photo of their house, notes about what’s being done to support their spouse and kids.
I should also share that I received a number of “reassuring” pep talks from well meaning people when they’d ask about my son. Instead of just listening and saying, “That must be scary or difficult or hard,” they would say things like, “He’s in God’s hands,” or “God will take care of him,” or “Don’t worry it will be okay, most kids come back”.
None of those things were helpful.
1. I do believe that we are ALL in God’s hands… however, that provides no assurance that we will be safe from disaster or harm.
2. I did believe God would take care of him. I did not believe God would take care of him the way **I** wanted him taken care of… I was sure God had his eternal soul, but that didn’t mean he wouldn’t come back without a leg, arm,or with brain injuries. That didn’t mean that he wouldn’t watch friends be killed and have to kill someone else or just wrestle with the pain, extreme anxiety and fear of his own demise in a bad and painful way or watch others experience that terror (which IS the trauma that my son experienced even though never deployed). There are many casualties in any kind of war. God doesn’t promise those who are engaged in war that God will have a magic bubble around them to protect them from the horrors of war.
No, I did not believe there was a promise that God would protect my son. If there was, then why were so many others prayers not answered. This statement was no comfort. I needed someone to listen to my fear, experience my pain with me and just pray with me.
If you have additional ideas or comments on this topic, please share them below. Do you have a caregiving question? Ask Karen!