The 7 Stages of Waiting for a Missionary


By: Carly Walker //

Will I wait for you?

The snow was falling on his red hair when he came around the corner and it was just like any chick flick I had ever seen. Guy finds girl after being separated for too long. Guy and girl run into each other’s arms/Hollister sweatshirts. Happily ever after.

End scene.

The only difference between the movies and my scenario is that in less than 20 minutes we went from Notebook-esk hugging in Ugg boots to silently eating junior bacon cheeseburgers at Wendy’s. Why? Because although we loved each other and had been dating, we hadn’t spoken to each other verbally in TWO YEARS. (also because Junior Bacon Cheeseburgurs are really good. Side note. Not at all relevant.)

There is a part of Mormon culture that very few people outside the religion understand or even think about. You have probably seen plenty of LDS missionaries with their bright white T’s and name tags during their two year expedition to tell people about the church.


My little brother Carson Walker on his mission.

If you haven’t in real life, then you may have seen look alikes at The Book of Mormon musical or while scanning the rival team’s fans at a BYU basketball game.


Missionaries do not actually get to wear WWF belts.

What you don’t see as much are the women (or men) that are “Waiting” for them back home.

Yes. That happens.

The Love Language

For 1.5 to 2 yrs these missionaries put their lives on hold and are assigned to serve in various locations around the world to help others and preach the gospel. These missions range anywhere from Ghana Africa speaking Twi to Pocatello Idaho speaking agriculture. And for 1.5 to 2 years their significant others wait for them to come back. What makes this scenario different than the standard long distance relationship is that in an effort to focus on their missions, missionaries are unable to contact their boo by phone or computer.

That means no phone calls, no dates, in some cases no emails, absolutely no Facebook, no Skype, and noooooo Snap Chat. There are very few exceptions and loop holes. Love has to last the test of time solely using strategies from the 1800’s namely: letters, the pony express, and wishing on star constellations that someone hasn’t forgotten you exist. This is something that doesn’t come easy to the tech savvy young and in love.

To give you a window into what it is like to wait for a missionary, I have put together the 7 stages of grief waiting for “your missionary” to come home.

The Seven Stages

1. Denial

This is the phase when you convince yourself that you still have a boyfriend. You continue working on your relationship by coloring letters, making packages with scrapbook paper, and annoying your roommates by making them say hi to Elder ***** into a tape recorder. A tape recorder that you may or may not have pillow talk with. Letters are re-read, cologne scented sweatshirts are never washed, and old voicemails are replayed in an effort to keep from hitting the hard realization that it’s only been two weeks.

2. Anger

Around this time you start taking your frustration out on mailmen.  I think pitbulls are the least of the US postal services worries when it comes to passionate pen pals who need a letter. And they need it delivered on time. Right now.mailmen

3. Guilt

This is the stage when you go on dates, but end the night by saying, “Sorry, I can’t I have a missionary.”no

4. Loneliness

This is two weeks later when you make out anyway.kiss

5. The Upward Turn

This is when you realize that maybe “waiting” didn’t mean stopping your life for two years. You can usually tell when a girl has hit the upward turn if there is an increase in the number of times she showers. Also, by a decrease of the number of wedding photos she pins on Pinterest.moving on

6. Reconstruction

Like a baby duckling learning to fly, this is when you put down the scented markers and take the first steps to becoming independent. This usually entails changing your major in college, dying your hair a different color, and/or making your own money by getting a job at a call center and donating plasma.reconstruction

7. Hope

The final stage when the new “you” gets ready to meet the new “him.” at an airport surrounded by “Welcome Home” posters, balloons, and the hope that you could possibly pick up where you left off. reunion_airport

What people don’t realize is that Missionaries are not allowed to have any physical contact with members of the opposite sex for two years. This usually results in reunion hugs looking less like this and more like this.

reunion However, the first few hours are never a good predictor of what may come for both of you. And if you find your love did last the hunger games of relationship tests, it is probably pretty sweet.

Many of us have sent off missionaries. Some of us are now married to them, others have had to throw away stuffed animals, shoe boxes full of letters, and puzzles made out of pictures of their faces. But no matter how our experience ended, we can take away the following facts:

Letters may not the best source of communication.

Love is unpredictable.

And even though not every reunion may have ended up like this, it’s sweet to remember times like these when we were young and tender. In my opinion, it’s a part of ourselves we shouldn’t forget.

For those who did it: Kudos. And for those who are about to quick tip: If you spend two years living your own life and learning about yourself instead of sitting at home “waiting,” you will probably be more emotionally equipped to handle the results, whether they be good, bad, or this…???


Add yours
  1. 1

    I really loved this and especially the video the return at the end of this page!! it is soooo cute, and I have someone who I will wait for hen he serves his mission and i hope he does this for me! Probably not haha but it is so cute and thank you for sharing that, has made my day.
    God bless, love always,
    Anastasia, Cashmere Ward, Christchurch, New Zealand.

  2. 2

    Oh my gosh this is me!! I am 2 weeks into this…my boyfriend left for his mission on Aug. 14th, and I have felt all of these emotions in varying amounts depending on the day…but now it makes sense. I think I’ve gotten past the denial stage pretty well. But I’m kinda into a bit of a depression, which I can see and am trying to get out of. Aka,…I understand that I need to shower every day even though I no longer have a boyfriend sadly. I miss him. I made out with a former boyfriend because I miss my missionary! And I felt horribly guilty for it but I realized that maybe I can still go on dates. I didn’t promise to stop my life, I promised to be here for him when he gets back! And I’ve actually already changed my major. And I am working of several other changes to improve myself, some inspired by him and others are things that I just want to do for myself, such as get into a better financial situation and get a better job. I hope we make it. I really really do want this boy when he gets back from his mission! I love him very much. We dated for 6 months before he left and were friends for about a month and a half before dating initially. I miss him ridiculously and I do believe he is the right one, I believe that very sincerely. I have never had such a confirmation with any other that I have dated. He is the only boy who I feel I know is right. And that is a hard feeling to explain. But anyway, I am just glad I am kinda normal..I’m not the only one, and this article describes me EXACTLY. Lol

    • 3

      I absolutely love this!!! My missionary left 3 weeks ago today and it has been hard. At first I kept telling myself it wasn’t real and now I’m starting to get used to the fact that he’s not coming back for a very long time. I miss him more and more everyday but I am so proud of him and I love getting letters with everything he’s been doing. I know that it will be worth it when he comes home. Thank you for the support xoxo

  3. 4
    Tia Wray

    I waited for my missionary (sort of, with the getting out and having other boyfriends and almost getting engaged twice but didn’t) and this is totally accurate. Fantastic. When we first talked again, we argued for like the first 6 hours and then we got engaged less than a month later. Good times. Marriage rocks, though, no matter how you got there!

  4. 5

    it’s funny because in the first video that is only the first guy that girl decided to wait for. She fell in love with a different guy who is also now out on a mission

  5. 8

    I loved this so much I’m four months in and I’m hitting my upward turn right now. the guilt stage was definitely difficult and the thing about you can tell whether or not a girl has hit her upward stage by how many showers she takes is SO true! you can also tell by how few and far between the crying spells are xD I shouldn’t have watched the return video though! It made me cry :/ it was super sweet though!

  6. 9

    I love it! I’m pretty sure even though he’s been out 9 months, I’m still in stage one…. BUT this gives me hope that some day my life will be able to go on without feeling like there’s a giant missionary-shaped hole in it(:

  7. 10

    Good post! I really like the uplifting and not-so-serious way you write about this delicate topic that concerns so many of us reading it. Even reading this as a guy I find these steps pretty accurate. Oh the denial, oh the loneliness and sometimes even the anger 🙂 Woe the communicating via letters, which i hate 😀 But ultimately this experience has led me, as you pointed out, to greater resolution to be ready when the time comes. I guess this experience (and she) has inspired me to reconstruct and prepare myself for future like never before. She has 8 months left. We’ll see how it goes.

  8. 11

    I loved this! My missionary is barely out two weeks and I have missed him to the point of not getting out of bed, but reading this made me smile, and it is bookmarked on my computer. (: Thanks!!

  9. 12

    I found this post exceptionally well written and very humorous with all the gifs. However, my favorite part is how you explained that focusing on yourself during this time period is crucial. The maturity gained is incredible to watch unfold. I went from reading the first to the fourth stage just rolling my eyes at the “pathetically in love” if you will, to the last three stages nodding in approvement. You go from not really understanding the complexity and struggles a relationship will inevitably bring (we’ve all gone through the love-stricken stage; where we see no wrong in our boo thing) to becoming a mature women who is very capable of handling a relationship-and her emotions- in check, even if things unfortunately do take a turn south.
    Great article once again! Long distance relationships are never easy to go through. Kudos to all the girls out there holding strong. 🙂

  10. 13
    Julia Morrell

    Thank you so much for making this. My missionary left last summer and has 9 1/2 months left. I didn’t think it was possible to miss someone this much. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and wish he could be with me for just 5 minutes. But there is also no where else I would rather have him be. I want him to focus on his mission but more than anything I just want him to say that he loves me and misses me. It’s really not easy waiting. I go to BYU by the way. Crazy RMs everywhere. I miss him.

  11. 14
    Samantha Walker

    This is extremely accurate. Being someone who is “waiting for a missionary” myself, I must say the first 4 stages are terribly emotionally painful, but very real. Hitting stage 5 has been one of the greatest blessings in this journey, and it’s true that you really can see a BIG difference!! I am so happy I found something I can relate to so much. 🙂

  12. 15
    Gabriela Aviles

    I’m good to know that I’m not the only one going through this stages haha. I too have a missionary out in the field who I miss so much. He left on September 24, 2014. It’s only been two months and I miss him like crazy!!! He writes me letters, emails me, and occasionally sends me videos. It’s sad not having him by my side and hard. The hardest part of the day is during the night. I feel really lonely. I seem to understand why since we always use to call eachother at night, ALWAYS. I cry, I feel depressed, I hug a stuff animal that he gave me, I sometimes wear his sweater that he left me, I go through pictures/videos/letters/emails, and I fall asleep thinking about him. It’s hard to focus on anything else especially on yourself while all you can do is miss someone. I sometimes wonder if I can go through it for two years or if I should take other opportunities to meet other guys, and sometimes I do notice that a few guys do try to talk to me and I get somewhat excited because I feel so lonely. But then I do feel guilty. I hope to get out of the depression stage soon and try to really understand why he chose to go on a mission and understand that that choice was one of the best choice he could ever make in his life. This article is really great and helped me with this whole waiting process. I wish all of you girls who are waiting for someone, and guys, the best!

  13. 16
    Lexie Macias

    I just said goodbye to my boyfriend and best friend of 3 years yesterday morning. I seemed to have skipped a bunch of stages and gotten straight to loneliness. I couldn’t stop crying yesterday and have yet to hear from him. Its really hard knowing he isn’t here by my side or a couple minutes away. He did leave me a huge box of things to help me while he is gone along with a missionary countdown clock. I do get a little joy out of turning the blocks every morning and knowing I’m a day closer to seeing him again and greeting him at the airport. I can’t wait to hear back from him, I miss him a lot but it will get easier.

  14. 17
    peace jany

    its super hard.i have mananged to pass through the first stages. i have five months left to here from him again. the worst part is not knowing how the story wil end.ilove him alot but i have learnt to know that i have to be a humble and supporting girlfrnd to let him focus.idont communicate with him but ts only because iwant him to focus. am happy to know its normal to feel this way as in my second last stage!

  15. 19
    Kasey Haas

    i dont know what im going to do for two years,dealing with all of the depression im going to have when hes not around. im going to go to his house at least once a week and sleep in the bed he slept in before he left, and i will embrace the sheets that still have the smell of him on it. im nervous. and he has not even left yet. he leaves in about 3 months,but knowing that that time is going to come,hurts me and i dont know what to do.

  16. 21

    Ahhh, oh my goodness I loved this! My missionary leaves on my Birthday in 36 days. I’ve been supportive as much as I humanly possibly can. But it’s so hard not to focus on how much I will miss him and talk about that with him. However, I know this is part of the Lord’s plan and because it’s part of the plan I’ll be able to get through it, and with whatever other trials I’m thrown through. Thank you so much for this article and everyone’s comments, they really comforted me. I never thought I’d be in this position before.. It’s so surreal. We promised each other that I wouldn’t wait for him, and would write him only has a friend. So, hopefully that helps with some stages of this process. Haha. But, I know it’s going to hurt deeply and I’ll feel lonely in the next 36 days. But I know if I pray for having spiritual experiences just like my sweetheart and if I focus on myself spiritually then everything is going to be alright.

  17. 22

    Actually the “no contact with the opposite sex” thing is not true. There is nothing in the manual about that, it just says “no inappropriate relationships with anyone of the opposite sex”.

  18. 23
    Anna Beth

    My missionary has been gone for 2 months and a week now. and the hardest part is the loneliness. i don’t feel anyone quite gets me just like he did ya know? he’s my best friend and so much more. we’ve been writing and i’m blessed to be able to email him every week. but these feelings have yet to go away and often times it feels like they’re getting worse. i just wanna talk to him. i want someone who know’s me so well, and still loves me and all of my crazy. i’ve been on several dates but it just doesn’t feel the same. another hard part is that i have no idea if he’s “the one” and it scares me that i’m so attached to someone all the way in Michigan and could possible miss the man i’m supposed to marry here at home. (utah)
    i’m so torn, and it’s hard to not have someone to talk about it with… i’m just so grateful for the priesthood and for prayer and the peace they both bring, no matter how hard it gets. he is such an example to me of just pushing through 🙂

  19. 25

    As a male and a convert to the church I have been waiting for my Girlfriend to come back from her mission for over a year, she means the world to me, she brought God into my life and she really saved me from myself. I recently passed my 1 year mark for being a member. I will share some of my advice for any guys and girls who are waiting for the ones they love like I am.
    1. Do every thing in your power to support them, and be understanding of their time restraints on emailing, and even making letters for you.
    2.Really just like number one, let them know you care, prove it to them beyond a shadow of doubt. I’ve had times where I wait all day so we can email each other in semi fast time back and forth and I stare at my email so that I can be there if she needs anything from me and if not so we can just talk and more than once tons of times it’s happened where she only had enough time to really just say hello and she feels bad that I wait for her and I tell her that even if all she can say is hello and that she loves me than waiting for hours on end once a week is more than worth it, be supportive, it’s hard on both sides.
    3.tell them about your days, and be completely honest, tell them about things you might be talking about with friends right now, send them emails not only on the day that you both can talk but when ever you feel like it, she tells me all the time how happy it makes her to get random little details about life.
    4. and most importantly. never lose hope on each other, we have had rough patches, but try your best to not make them be stressful, your missionary doesn’t have much time and the last thing you want is them to not beable to concentrate on their responsibilities, you want the small times you can talk to be the time they can just relax and know they are loved, always be honest if you feel hurt by something but don’t make them feel bad about it, and like I was saying, never lose hope in each other, you choose to wait for a reason, don’t give up because it’s to hard, it really isn’t, if you can’t handle it then you never loved them enough to wait. it sounds harsh but it’s my opinion.

    for me some days have been incredibly hard, and it’s the small things that hurt the most while waiting, at first you will miss kissing them, or hugging them, or going to movies, ect. but after enough time, you miss way more. the way they make you feel safe and whole and loved. when she left on mission I cried for 4 days almost without stopping, but I had a dream of her that made me feel incredibly better, I still cry probably once a week but it isn’t for long periods of time.
    I miss her more than I could ever explain to anyone, but I love her more, I respect her more and I admire her.
    even though it has been hard we have grown so much stronger, I know the wait isn’t over yet for me but she comes home in may. and I know that once everything is said and done, it is all worth it because of how much stronger you will be as a couple.

  20. 26

    My boyfriend and I weren’t dating before he left for his mission. We started dating a year into it. I wasn’t a member when we met. We had met at summer camp, we hit it off, and we traded numbers and texted constantly. (He lived in Vegas, I lived in Texas.) He left for the Philipines two weeks after we met, just after I was baptized in my hometown. He couldn’t come because he had to leave for the MTC just two days later. The next August we officially became a couple. We fell in love through long emails that came in the middle of the night on my end, and through letters that took too long to arrive. He’ll be home in 6 months, and I can’t wait to see him again.

  21. 27

    My missionary left 9 months ago and I bet you can guess which stage I’m at since I’m still looking up sites like this in the internet, lol. It’s a lot harder than you initially expect, and it doesn’t get easier in the sense hat you miss them or think about them less… but t does become more doable as you realize you need to focus on improving yourself instead of moping around. I’m still trying to make this transition, because some days it’s easy to get up and take on the world but others leave you crying yourself to sleep wondering how your ever going to happy again. My personal advice is to just get involved in as many new things as you can. Try a sport or an instrument or an art class. For all you other High school seniors out there, maybe take on a new elective or go get a job. Anything that distracts you from missing him will just make the time fly by that much faster. Good luck to you all I hope you find yourself along with much happiness

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