Prepare for the Worst, Live For the Best
What does LODD mean? What is a Line of Duty Death?
A line of duty death is when a firefighter's emergency response duties, including things like fire calls, emergency medical calls, hazmat incidents, natural disasters, training activities, technical and search and rescues, etc., result in their death. A line of duty death can also be considered a deadly heart attack or stroke that happens up to 24 hours after the emergency incident or training activity.
Being a firefighter is a dangerous job. They risk their lives every time they respond to the bells.
We all know what it feels like to go from laughing one minute to holding back tears the next. Firefighters deal with more life and death situations on a daily basis than most other people. Fire wives, in turn, are exposed to much more life and death than their colleagues outside of the fire life.
We may sometimes feel as if we were in a bubble while business went on as usual around us. Emotional roller coasters are well-known and frequent in the fire life. The heartbreak can be felt throughout the compassionate hearts of the Fire Wife Sisterhood whenever a Line of Duty Death (LODD) happens.
We all have thought - What if it happened to us?
There is no denying that every time a LODD happens, we ask ourselves this very question. The possibility of death is a natural to reflect on in this line of work and life.
What must the widow be feeling and going through? How on earth will she be able to plan the funeral, let alone attend it?
Running these questions and so many more through our heads for the days and weeks that follow a LODD can be emotionally straining and physically exhausting. It is important to recognize how LODDs affect you, even when you are putting on a strong face for your husband and kids. Set aside some time for yourself to grieve over what has happened, and what your emotions have gone through. Cry. Talk with your friends. Lean on the Fire Wife Sisterhood for support from those who are also feeling the pain. Let out as much as you need to, then pray for the strength to go on and live each best day you have fully and with an open heart.
Love your firefighter with everything you have, at every chance you have. Be thankful for all the times, good and bad, you have together.
What can you do to be prepared for the worst?
Nothing will prepare you emotionally if that day comes when you get a phone call about a LODD that is close to home. However, you can be prepared in ways that will give you time and energy to deal with your emotions instead of details.
Talk with your spouse
Your spouse is in a very dangerous line of work. If you can have an open and honest conversation now about he would like as far as services, burial, cremation, music, speakers, etc., it will help you be more prepared in case the day ever comes when you do need that information.
Make a list of important family and friend contacts
Write down immediate family contact information. It may be helpful to write down responsibilities you may ask of them. You might have one person make phone calls so you don't have to relive the pain every time you talk about it. Other responsibilities you can delegate to friends and family can include: picking up/taking children to and from school and other activities, making meals, driving you to the places you will need to make funeral arrangements, or even just being close by in case you need them.
Make a list of other important contacts
After you have had the discussion with your spouse about his wishes, you can gather contact information for funeral homes, churches, newspapers (for the obituary), and flower shops. It is also helpful to have the contact information for the officers at their station, local and IAFF unions, estate planning attorney, life insurance, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, and any other service-related numbers. This will reduce the amount of energy you will have to spend searching for contact information.
Write down important details
Make note of any meaningful items, poems, songs, or words that you want to include at the services. For instance, do you have a special memento, ring, necklace, or photo you would like to be buried with him or ensure they are with you? Know where is Class As are. Writing down the small but significant details will give you clear direction when your mind is not focused on the details.
Join the 24-7 Commitment Community
Your fire family is vital during a line of duty death. If you feel alone in your fire family, connect in the 24-7 Commitment community. From the Fire Wife Sisterhood, Honor Guard, and many other groups, the support you find here is endless. Lean on your family and your fire family. There are many free resources in addition to the support given to you by other members.
Resource Links and Notes
- Print a Survivor's Benefit Guide and other helpful resources from www.firehero.org to help guide you and keep you organized with helpful ideas like making sure to get at least 20 copies of your loved one's death certificate.
- Need help getting Class As? Check out Lighthouse Uniforms for more information on how to get a free Class A for your loved one.
- Fire Department Chaplain. The chaplain can be a vital faith-based support for you and your family during this time. Reach out to them and let them walk you through the days, weeks, and months following your loss.
- The NFFF not only has a wealth of information on where to go and what to do if you ever find yourself in the situation of losing your firefighter in a LODD, but they also have Survivor and Family Programs to help you find your way back to living without your lost love.
If you are Affected by a Local LODD...
Whether you have recently had a firefighter's death impact your world, or have already been through the worst day and are now unsure of how to move on without your loved one, the 24-7 COMMITMENT community and the National Fallen Firefighter Foundation (NFFF) are there to let you know you are not alone.
Consider joining a 24-7 COMMITMENT community, Honor Guard (men) or the Fire Wife Sisterhood (women), to find local and online support groups of other firefighters and fire wives. Read "The Emotional Roller Coaster of LODDs for the Fire Wife." There are so many helpful resources and others in the fire family throughout the 24-7 COMMITMENT community. The NFFF is an organization who honors the fallen firefighters, and also provides resources to help the survivors, families, and coworkers to rebuild their lives following a LODD.