It is hard to believe, but it appears the end of the year is upon us and somehow most of us ran out of time to accomplish all the things we wanted to or more likely should have completed this year. I hope each of you find successes when available and remember to take the “big picture” into account before deciding your efforts fell terribly short.
I think we should talk a little about family this time. As we scrape the surface of this element of our lives I want to talk a little about our “home” family and about our “fire” family. We all know the importance of our families, whether they are traditional, blended, functional or like many, dysfunctional. The connection to your family often provides the foundation or at least the materials to make a foundation that will connect you to the world throughout your lifetime. Without some basic skills learned through your family connection we would be left floundering around searching for where we “fit” in to society.
The family dynamic has certainly changed over the years and we each can form our own opinion on what has been good and what may not have been so good in these changes. The busy lives, hectic work schedules and desire to serve our communities we have undertaken in recent times have helped to change some basic family functions. As less time is spent with our family it is easy to lose sight of the importance our family interaction serves. With this in mind we all need to make the effort to carve out time to interact with your family and perhaps take the high road and work towards repairing any damage that has been done in the past without casting blame or expecting praise for doing so.
It can be hard to understand for those that have not experienced loss of family members, but take it as fact that time can slip away in the blink of an eye and all those opportunities to interact, fix, embrace and enjoy your family are gone. Once people pass on there is no way to physically repair any issues, visit with your loved ones, or any other similar salvation. Take the time now to support your family.
Now let’s move on to your fire family. This family has also changed quite a bit over the years, some for the good and some for the bad. Those of you that are new to the group often hear the old folks talking about the “brotherhood,” for politically correctness purposes that term is all of the fire service, and how those we work with become like family and in some cases even more close than family. This is all very true and it can be distracting for your “home” family sometimes when things going on with your “fire” family supersede or at least appear to outweigh your “home” family needs. It is very important to strike up a balance between these two.
That brotherhood is an important bond that somewhat unwittingly helps us each go home after every call. We become so tight knit that we look out for each other on the job and away from the fire station. We get to the point that we cannot stand to think that one of our partners could be injured or taken from us, so we go that extra step to make sure everyone is physically well.
In either version of your family a critical issue can often be overlooked. This time of year is traditionally a time that many of our family members suffer more severe anxiety, depression and an overwhelming feeling of helplessness. It is possibly more important that we are consistent during the holiday season to be more vigilant in taking care of our family members. As we have seen the rate of suicide among our fire and related first responder family members is on the rise and this time of the year generally sees a spike so perhaps you could take that extra minute to reach out to those around you. Including those without extended families in your family activities is a great way to keep them included and remove some of the feeling of isolation that can be associated with depression. We are our brother’s keeper in reality so don’t forget, no one is totally alone, but help must be both offered or asked for.
As you enjoy the close of the year remember to take care of your “home” and “fire” families and make sure everyone in both groups stays safe.
If I can be of any assistance to you or your department please let me know.