Using Denial to Cope With Deployment

Keeping Dad nearby

You’d think I’d be in full freak-out right now, the way deployment is chugging towards us like a freight train. But I’m not.

Instead, I’m living in the happy land of Denial. Here in Denial the trees are flowery, the sun is shining and I’m very slender and tan. Deployments do happen in Denial, but they are not troublesome or stressful – they are happy, low key and include romantic reunions free of heartache or arguments over why, for the love of God, he can’t remember to put the seat back down.

Denial is a lovely place.

The problem with Denial is that it is not real. For example, it’s actually raining outside. I am pale and 20 lbs. overweight. And the coming deployment is very stressful.

And yet I think, for me, denial isn’t a bad thing. It doesn’t mean I’m not physically ready  — paperwork ready – for him to go. All of our Powers of Attorney are squared away and our automobile insurance has been adjusted. For me, it just means that instead of getting so wrapped up in the fact that it’s coming, I just enjoy day-to-day life as if nothing was changing.

Because of denial I can spend my husband’s last days with us without thinking “are we using our time as well as possible?” It also helps avoid, to some extent, those super fun predeployment fighting matches.

It’s how I cope. I pretend it’s not happening until it’s there, hitting me over the head as my husband gets out of the car, kisses me farewell, tells me to take care of our babies, and walks towards the bus without turning back. Then I think about it. Then I let the sadness wash over me. But until then? I do my best to emotionally pretend it isn’t happening.

Have you tried denial as a coping mechanism?

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • Rquick

    I go more glib than denial. I turn into a comedian when faced with him leaving. He left recently and I had to really watch myself from cracking jokes and not being serious. Its just so hard to face sometimes.

  • armywife2008

    Heck yeah. I don’t think about the reality of how much the separation will suck until it is upon us. Otherwise, the little bit of time we do get to spend together before he leaves is sad and gloomy instead of joyful.

  • Meghan

    Is this denial, or just resignation? Not much you can do, so you keep plodding along.

  • barbeezdoll

    when we were getting ready for my husbands deployment, i got more and more depressed. i took him out on dates so we would have awesome memories. the week before he left he probably gained 20lbs because i cooked like it was thanksgiving everyday lol. the day of i cried like every 10-15 mins, and thankfully he was smart enough to act like i wasnt. depression overcame me once he was gone and i spent many days in the doctor reconized the symtoms and prozac became my friend. everyday has gotton easier, and he will be home within weeks. denial is just as bad as letting it consume you. there is no easy way to deal with it, you have to just deal your way and get through it with a lot of prayer.

  • Sara

    YUP! and I think I was in denial for at least half the deployment too! hehe.

  • My husband retired after 30 years in the Army, the last two spent in Afghanistan and Iraq. Then he was home about four months and went back to Iraq with the State Department. He has now been deployed for almost 3 1/2 straight years. I love denial. With the State he gets to come home every 3 months for 21 days. that is so much better than the six months with the Army. While I know how rare his particular skill set is, and I see everyday what a difference he is making, in so many areas, I am certain I love my husband more than any woman has ever loved any man, and I miss him so much I cannot allow myself to think about it… so I am surprised every single evening when he doesn’t come homr for supper. It become, “oh yeah, he’s deployed” time again. Sometime when I fall asleep late in the night, I forget again that he is deployed, convince myself he is just out of town for the night and will be home for supper… (That is how I get myself to cook supper for myself, otherwise I would eat popcorn or raisins, maybe a bowl of cereal, or on a bad day, an entire red velvet cake with Bluebell.) I work at the ranch doing things I know will please him, (he loves the ranch and being home so much.) Denial is a perfectly acceptable, and healthier life style method of coping with deployment than most, and what’s a little white lie going to hurt if it is just to yourself?

  • Mel

    Being on our fifth deployment from each other, and I’m not talking about 3 to 6 month deployments..I mean the the year long kind, I have realized Denial is wonderful, up until the last day before he leaves and then it smacks you upside the head and leaves a freaking wreck! However, I’ve done this a few times and acknowledge the first 24 hours after they leave is going to be spent on the couch, tear stained, and vunerable. I pray during that time my family doesn’t call me b/c all I vocalize are sounds only dogs can hear. It sucks ladies(and gentlemen) and whatever way you find to deal with deployments be that denial, jokes, or drugs….do it.

  • Jenn

    Normally, I am already anticipating the separation before we are together. We have been long distance for almost 1.5 years, 6 of those being married. Every trip ends with huge crying session before we part our ways again.

    But, like you, emotionally I am in denial that his first deployment starts realllyy soon. Just enjoying our time together, no tears, normal routines, and prepping for the future. It seems much easier this way :)