Topic: Grief

Blogger Biography: Stephanie Hughes-White is a marketing and communications professional with experience in the corporate and nonprofit sectors. She is a proud Navy spouse for over seven years and currently resides with her husband in Connecticut.

When my husband and I were newlyweds, we never expected that our lives would take the path it did. We knew the strains that the service would put on our upcoming marriage and life together with my then fiancé’s overseas deployments. The difficulty of spending time together was consistently an issue. However, we knew we could persevere. What we didn’t know was what lay ahead.

My father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease shortly before we were married. Within less than a year, the disease started to have some serious effects on him. We made the decision that I would help take care of him at home and fly away for periods at a time to help my mother. This was not an easy decision for my husband and I. He was busy with his military service and I, with my career. But, family is family. Putting my father into a care home was not an option any of us wanted.

Over the next few years, my trips to my father increased and the time with my husband decreased. We were spending less and less time together. My husband liked to phrase it as “my family deployment times.” He was so incredibly supportive even though it was difficult for me not being there at home for him.

I learned to have more patience, which I never thought I had in me. My father ended up in a wheelchair and started to need care in every way. Finally, when my father passed away, my mother and I were by his side and, as difficult as it was, I wouldn’t have had it any other way. He was one of the most amazing men I knew and I would have done anything for him.

The strain that this can put on military couples could have ended in divorce. However, we are better people for having made the sacrifice of time together for the greater good. Just remember there are resources such as the Military OneSource and Fleet and Family Support Program to help provide guidance and support.

Caregiving is something that is becoming more and more common today. It is not to be taken lightly. The impact on those needing help and to your family can be incredible. I think of it as giving back to my parents for all they did for me.