In episode 47 of the Women of the Military, I am sharing my experience of going through the stages of grief. I lost a part of myself when I transitioned out of the military. The more I learned and reflected on the process of transitioning out of the service I realized I had gone through the four stages. I spent a lot of time stuck in the second phase because I was unaware I needed to deal with how I was feeling. So I discussed how I did that and where I am today.
The four stages of grief are Reeling, Feeling, Dealing, Healing. As I was transitioning out of the military and became a military spouse and mom. I really struggled with the loss of identity and the loss of purpose the military had given me. I had gone from knowing who I was and following the orders, I had been given. To become a mom and military spouse where I no longer had orders. I was still directly tied to the military community but in a totally different way. I thought if I just kept pushing forward. And if I didn’t stop to look back I could find my new purpose and have an impact. That is what I had always done before, but transitioning isn’t easy.
Transitioning out of the military
But the reality was I truly couldn’t find myself after transitioning out of the military until I dealt not only with the loss of my identity but also some of the challenges that I faced while serving in the military. I stayed in the reeling phase of grief for years. I was stuck.
When people asked me if I was glad, I got out I wouldn’t have a solid answer because my identity was still wrapped up into being in the military, but the reality was I wasn’t in the military anymore. It wasn’t until I went to get help through Celebrate Recovery. That was when I was able to take the first step in the second stage (feeling). And stopped feeling stuck and could begin to move through the next stage of grief.
Once I was able to realize and acknowledge what I was feeling I was able to start dealing with the emotions that had left me stuck and living a half-lived life.
If you have transitioned out or about to transition out of the military don’t miss this episode. It is powerful to think about how full of a life I thought I had. But in reality, I was still stuck in the first stage of grief as I mourned the loss of my military identity. And what I have today is so much better than I could have ever imagined six years ago.
If you need someone to talk to please email me at airmantomom [at] gmail [dot] com.
Check out the post that inspired the idea of talking about grief for this episode of the podcast: Mourning the loss of military service
Resources to help: