Before your loved one leaves on their deployment journey there may be a lot on your mind including when they leave, how you'll manage and when you'll hear from them again. Personally, I was worried about everything from whether he had packed enough underwear to when I'd be able to start sending letters to him. In the weeks leading up to him leaving I wanted to make sure we got to do a variety of things to make him feel relaxed. So, here is a few things which you may want to do with your loved ones before they leave:
- Going out for a meal - Food always goes straight to the heart so eating with your loved one at a nice restaurant or your favourite pub is a nice idea. Whether it's with family, friends or just you both.
- Going on your usual date - Our typical date was to go bowling and then go to the gaming arcade. Even though it may be the last time you'll do the activity you both enjoy, remind yourself that you'll do it again once they are home.
- Having a lazy day/night - While celebrating and going out may be enjoyable sometimes it's nice to spend a night at home... so grab a pizza and watch a movie with them in bed!
- Reminiscing - Think of all the best memories you share together. Personally, I thought this would have made me an emotional wreck as we won't be doing it again (for a while) but instead it made me feel comforted.
- Help them pack - This is a difficult task, and also an emotional task but your loved one will appreciate the help, as it isn't easy for them either. If you are sneaky you'll be able to pack something of your own that will be a surprise for them when they find it.
- Remind yourself it's not forever - It's clearly going to be an emotional period of time for you and your loved one but they will be back home quick enough. It may be a good idea to plan activities to do like creating a care package fortnightly. This will help you keep busy and thinking of ideas for them!
- Let them know your true feelings - This is so important! There is absolutely nothing wrong with talking to them about your biggest and smallest concerns when they leave. Don't be afraid to cry, but remind them of the positives like how proud you are.
- Night out with their mates - Whether it's a few drinks, dinner or just ice cream hanging out with a bunch of their mates is a great way to say final goodbyes but also enjoy company. Especially friends that are outside the army, people they won't be spending the next few months around.
- Day with their family - Family is so important, and it's a good time to make plans on how you'll manage to communicate with one another when you hear from your loved one. This may include planning a time to visit for a group Skype call, or sending a bulk package of letters to them. While away they won't be able to talk to everyone as time is limited for them.
- Going for a drive - As they will be leaving their hometown or the place they know as home, if they aren't based in your hometown, this can be a nice date day for you both as well as them having a tour before they leave. When they return, you'll be able to go on the same drive and see what has changed in the months that have passed.
At the end of the day, if there is something you haven't remembered to do in the lead up to their deployment then remind yourself they will be back home before you know it and you'll be able to do these things with them again! You may want to include sharing with them what you look forward to doing when they get back home in a letter or care package.
Madeline - 25th of May, 2016.