PCS

5 Stages of Grief when PCSing…and How to Overcome Them

4. Depression

Anytime you experience major life changes and losses, it is possible to become depressed. Missing your friends and having fond memories of your old home is normal; crying every time you see something that reminds you of the old duty station is not normal. Feeling sad on occasion is part of the PCS process, but if the symptoms become severe or persist for more than a few weeks, then you may need to see a doctor.

The work through: Mild depression means feeling sad, lethargic and not interested in activities. You can combat it with support from your spouse and by giving yourself small celebrations to look forward to—a visit to a new restaurant, a walk in the park or coffee with a friend. Exploring the area around your new duty station can be the excitement and motivation you need to move through this stage. Severe depression can be crippling and dangerous. It requires medical treatment or counseling.

5. Acceptance

This is the final stage and the end result—to become comfortable and adjusted to your new home. It can take a year to feel at home at your new duty station. Because my husband was training or deployed during most of our first year, it took him even longer to reach this point because he had to do most of his adjusting after homecoming. PCS acceptance can happen in little pieces: You may make a new friend one day, but you might not remember the route to the local store without GPS until a few weeks later. It took some time, but I have now accepted our new duty station, and I can think of the old one with more smiles than tears. A piece of my heart may always remain in Spain, but I have finally learned that I can live a full life here, too.

The work through: Acceptance won’t happen all at once. It’s normal to accept some things, then continue to go through the other stages of grief again before you accept the rest. Don’t beat yourself up if it is taking a long time to adjust. Instead, celebrate each small accomplishment. If you join a new club, find your way across base on your own or discover a new store you love, then enjoy those moments of acceptance. Share them with your spouse or friends on social media. Treasure those moments, so on bad days you can remember the sense of accomplishment and victory.

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