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DEALING WITH THE GUILT OF LEAVING FAMILY TO SERVE YOUR COMMUNITY

Relationships, Family, Firefighting - CRACKYL MAGAZINE
By Michelle Bogle

Erratic schedules, calls in the middle of the night and constant worry are realities that your loved ones face.

When you decided to become a firefighter, you committed to a life of serving and protecting others. Throughout your career, you’ve sprung into action at a moment’s notice, even at unscheduled or inconvenient times. You’ve also poured countless hours and energy into ongoing training to hone your skills as a first responder. 

Every shift, you continue to put yourself in dangerous situations to help those in need. It’s a physically, mentally and emotionally taxing job, but a noble and honorable calling that makes an important impact on your community.

Firefighting is also a unique lifestyle that impacts the family too. Erratic schedules, calls in the middle of the night and constant worry are realities that your loved ones face. Because of your occupation, there will be times that you miss big holidays, like Christmas or Thanksgiving, or are on the job when your family is celebrating birthdays, anniversaries or baby’s first steps. Sometimes you’ll get to cheer your kids or grandkids on the field or stage; other times, you’ll have to watch the highlights captured on video. 

Firefighting comes with many trade-offs and sacrifices — and, for the firefighter, that may include an unhealthy dose of guilt. Leaving your family in order to serve your community isn’t easy. Loved ones might also resent your career choice when you have to drop what you’re doing and run to an emergency. If left smoldering, these negative feelings can quickly turn into a raging fire, causing the relationships around you to collapse to the ground.

That’s why many seasoned firefighters will admit that planning and communication are key. Unusual shift patterns are tough on partners and children, but by being flexible with how family time is maximized, everyone wins. Family support should also come in the form of understanding. The reality of your job is that the calling will sound at inopportune times and you will have to leave important events. Having a family that appreciates the oath you have taken can lessen feelings of guilt so that you can safely respond to emergencies and focus on the job at-hand.

There’s no doubt that being part of the fire service is an incredibly rewarding experience, but even though you signed up for this lifestyle, your career impacts your spouse, children, parents, siblings and friends. By embracing your role as a firefighter as a family, you can collectively overcome challenges and build relationships while reaping the many benefits that come with life in the fire service.

Photo By iStock Images

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