You’ve heard of the five stages of grief- Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance, but did you know those apply to PCS (Permanent Change of Station) Moves too? I think most military families would agree that a PCS move is one of the most stressful times in our lives. There is so much that you have to get done, and in such a short amount of time, it’s overwhelming.
It happens to the best of us. We’re going along, living our lives, then one day your spouse calls and says we got an assignment. That’s when the five stages begin.
Denial– You think to your self, ‘this can’t be right, we just got here’. I literally still have boxes in my garage that I haven’t unpacked from our last move. I have windows that don’t even have curtains on them. Your time at any given duty station seems like it passes in the blink of an eye. Suddenly you turn around and your cycle is up, time to move on.
Anger– Are you kidding me, they’re sending us overseas, again? We have to get new passports, again!? When your moving overseas you have to get new passports made ASAP because they take forever, and the kids’ always seem to be expired. You have to apply for visas and they cost a small fortune, at least they’ll be reimbursed…eventually. The kids have to change schools, again? My oldest is in second grade and he’s changed schools five times, that’s a lot! It’s overwhelming, and it can make even the chillest #MilSpouse lose their cool for a minute.
Bargaining– What if you do a remote? Can we stay if you volunteer for a deployment? What if you cross train? There are a number of ways to get a PCS cancelled, but they almost never work, and aren’t really worth the effort. We all have a story of someone we know who got there’s cancelled because they found a work around, but they are few and far between, my friend.
Depression– You’re leaving your house, friends, family. It’s hard. On our first PCS, Lorne had a TDY enroute, so it fell to me to fly the nine hour flight from Dallas to London-by myself-with an 8 month old baby-4 months pregnant. It wasn’t great. My parents took me to the airport, and even though I had been married for two years and lived on my own, it felt like that was when I really left my parents. I cried for probably half the flight.
I’m ten years in at this point, and I’m used to being far from my parents and family, but each PCS season brings the fresh hurt of leaving friends behind. The military life bonds us with other families so quickly. These are the people we have holidays with, these are the people that we trust to take care of our kids, these are our family too. We always say “It’s a small Air Force,” and hope that our paths will cross again somewhere along the way, but there’s definitely no guarantees.
Acceptance–Finally you just say, ‘Okay, we can do this!’ You get out your notebook, write yourself a to-do list, and then you start to get excited! New adventures, new things to see, new friends to meet. It’s a special life we get to live, we get to be married to some of the best men and women America has to offer, see the most amazing places in the world like a local would, and raise our kids with a heart for other cultures.
I choose to look on the bright side of things, I look forward to exploring a new destination and I know that all these months of stress will be worth it once we are settled in our new location… I mean, it is Hawaii so, I can’t really complain.