The Emotional Roller Coaster of LODDs for the Fire Wife

by | Especially For The Fire Wife, Everyday, Fire Family Life, LODD


LODD’s are never easy but sometimes they feel devastating. When it seems like it could have been prevented.  When we can hear the awful maydays on the radio traffic play backs (never listen to those as a fire wife by the way.  That’s my recommendation.  No good comes out of replaying the past in your head.)

It’s those cases where there is first great hope.  “He’s trapped but we’re going to get him” and then it ends with the worst possible outcome.

Fire wives can really be affected by LODDs, especially when you’re involved in groups that span the country… as it’s likely that one of it’s many members is personally affected.   It hits pretty close to home when just hours ago everyone was all bantering inside a Facebook group about fun conversation and suddenly a tradegy happens and everyone turns somber and reflects on death.

These emotional roller coasters are common in the lives of our firefighters and wives.  I can go to work for 2 months in my office and hardly elevate my blood pressure over any topic.  But my husband will text me about a pediatric call or house fire and my heart races away.  And in the case of a death, my heart sinks.  Even when it’s a stranger.   But the hum drum day-to-day life goes on around me as if nothing changed.  There is like zero awareness unless I share and when I do, it brings an uncomfortable silence around the room.  My co-workers just aren’t used to facing life and death on a daily basis.

You can’t deny that every time there is a LODD, you run through the game plan in your head.   What if it happened to us?





What if it was someone at his station?  What would I do?  I confess that I go through a little brain game where I think about what that widow must be feeling like right now in this moment.  And the next day.  And the next day.  And the planning the funeral day.  And the funeral itself.  And a few weeks later when she might be finally alone in her thoughts.

I have found much personal growth in myself by learning to recognize this pattern.  Learn from it.  Grow from it.   It is a necessary part of the grieving process but I think we sometimes forget how much energy and strain it puts on our bodies.

You must plan some time for your personal recovery a few days after the event has passed.

After you’ve gone through your cycle of emotions.  After you’ve dissected it in conversation with your friends.  After you’ve cried.  After you’ve stayed strong for your husband and for your kids.  After you’re done praying for strength to get your through.   Your body is simply exhausted and needs to be renewed.

#1 most important thing for you to do is to NOT get down on yourself for feeling exhausted and not staying “strong”.  You are human.  We have big emotions around the fire life topics.

Sister you WERE strong.  And you still are.  Every warrior has rest and recovery.  No one goes non-stop always.

One of the biggest productivity tips I learned recently is that there is that it doesn’t matter what method I use to track and micro-manage my to do list and track my hours and watch the clock.  What matters the most in my productivity is watching my energy levels.

If I have an especially busy and emotional morning, don’t try to pack 6 more hours of writing into the afternoon.

If I’m throwing a birthday party on Sunday afternoon, my Monday better include some of my normal Sunday rest and relax time.




So if there is a LODD that hits particularly close to home, immediately re-construct your to do list and add

  • talk to my husband
  • extra playtime with my kids
  • read a book and relax

You can also… Go to bed earlier.  Cancel that extra event and stay home for more family time.  Stop to be thankful and breathe.   It sounds trite but we do want to hug them a little tighter and a little longer.

And the next time he does leave for his shift, you know it crosses your mind again.  Be ready for it and punch fear in the face.  Don’t let it zap your energy with worry.

You will keep your firefighter safer when you stand strong and face a LODD with grace and dignity and don’t collapse in a pile of tears in his lap.

Why?  Because he needs to go to work and focus on his safety and doing his job well.  If he left you at home in a pile of tears, his mind is not going to be fully on the job.    Don’t deny or hide your emotions but learn to deal with them.  Find support groups of women like the Fire Wife Sisterhood to help get you through these times.

Recognize your needs fire wives.  Find another fire wife who gets this because your neighborhood friends, sister in law or fellow soccer mom will possibly not connect on the same level, nor understand why the death of this “stranger” is so impactful.

You ARE strong.  And don’t let emotional exhaustion tell you otherwise.  Kick those ugly thoughts right of your brain.

And when you don’t feel that way, confess to your Fire Wife sisters and we’ll share the load for awhile.

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On a mission to be and inspire us all to be better humans, to strengthen fire families & marriages, to nurture and encourage fire wives, do "good business" in all areas of my life and of course, love on my 4 kids.

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  1. Nback2u

    I’m curious…..I thought this would be a question for the Chiefs Wife list, but it doesn’t look like anyone is using that list. Does anyone else have 1st hand LODD experience ? I have 2x firsthand, unfortunately, and my husband has another, which unfortunately was one of the Charleston 9 whom I’d never met, but was a member of husbands recruit class. ( and as a result we’ve been very active with that group) then, most recently, we had an off duty death of a Captain who was also my bosses 1st cousin.

    • Lori Mercer - WifeOnFire

      We will be launching the new Chief’s wife group soon….stay tuned.
      This is a good topic to bring into our new community and I will add it. Thanks for suggesting!

    • Cindy

      I am an LODD widow now for 10 years. I’m willing to answer any questions you may have.

  2. Jill

    My FF lost a close friend that he went thru recruit camp with. He is now on the Honor Guard so he has seen a lot now. It was really hard for him to lose his friend all the guys are struggling so I said they should get together to remember him with a guys night he said it helped to remember all te good times they had with him. It made it harder cause my husband had never had a death close to him I had lost friends and family from age 5 so I new what to expect he didn’t.

    • Lori Mercer - WifeOnFire

      Dealing with death is another one of those topics that so many families handle differently and can be a big strain on a marriage. sounds like you are being a great support for your husband. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  3. Jeannette Weitzel

    Thank you for all your words of wisdom and support. I am a Firefighter’s Mom, and I never take a second for granted when I see or talk to my son. He is doing what he loves, and it makes me proud. Being in the medical profession myself helps to not let my mind run away with the “what ifs”; but when there is a LODD I ache for the families and their” Brothers & Sisters”. The firefighting profession is an incredible family, unlike any other!



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