Something that has been replaying in my mind a lot is a conversation I had with a retired firefighter. Our families were enjoying the Fourth of July together and we got on the topic of mental health. How I never really knew about his story surprised me since his daughter is a close friend. But I guess it was just a subject that never came up until that day. And he was very open about it. But it wasn’t necessarily the story but something that he said while telling his story that has been replaying in my head.
While having this conversation he looked me straight in the eye while talking about his struggles with PTSD and he said he wouldn’t have made it through without his family and seeking further help. He said he put his family, his wife and kids through hell but they never gave up on him. That helped him so much and he said he owes them everything. I have brought the subject of mental health in the fire service up before but I cannot say how important it truly is. He was forced to retire instead of given the help he needed because his problems effected his work. That to me as a wife is not okay but I know it happens. He didn’t give up on getting that help and that is something to take note on. For me as a fire wife it touched my heart so much that the fact his family saw him through and he realized their role was everything.
Living on the other spectrum I sometimes struggle with how do I help other fire wives, whose husbands may be facing these similar situations? Knowing that not every situation will have the happy ending or the perfect outcome? We’re talking real life and it can get so complicated and messy. But I also know there are not any perfect answers. Every situation is different and holds its own demons. But what I can do is encourage you to exhaust every avenue of help before ever giving up on your firefighter. See them through if you can because seeing the gratefulness and the heart of this man who made it to the other end told me everything. The family matters in the battle and the family can heal. And if you’re the firefighter reading this don’t forget your family and that they want to see you healthy and be there for you more often then not. Let them. Fight for them.
Though I have been in this fire life a while now, I don’t pretend to know all the answers. I myself am constantly learning and every single season is different. But I welcome knowledge and am always open to learning. Some seasons harder then others in no particular order. Just when I feel like I have this fire life figured out and can handle things, I get humbled and I realize it will never have a pattern to follow. The fire life is just like a raging wildfire unpredictable but we can equip ourselves with the tools on the home front to extinguish the flames that may threaten it. And like this lesson I learned from this man, I encourage every fire family to remember what matters and fight for that. Keep fighting for the ones that mean the most.
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