ASK AMY: Retired First Responder Needs Comfort, Now

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Dear Amy: I am a retired firefighter. I spent my career solving problems and not thinking about the underlying stress I was experiencing.


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I just did what I had to do.

Recently, a father died (not unexpectedly), but then my best friend also died.

I’m not afraid to say that it has taken its toll on me. I have felt withdrawn and depressed, not to the point of self-harm, but I feel depressed and moody, from the moment I open my eyes in the morning.

I don’t find any enjoyment in anything I do and I don’t want it to continue to affect my family. I know they understand that I’m in a bad mood, and the reasons for it, but it’s not fair to them.

The bottom line is that I want to enjoy life and laugh again, before I’m too old to do it.

– Very sad

Dear sad: You deserve a lot of credit for putting all of this together and describing your symptoms, along with your stated goal of feeling better in the future.


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As a first responder, she experienced a lot of stress at work, including physical danger and trauma, as well as lack of sleep. You were an occasional witness to intense human suffering.

You are now using your training and knowledge to rank your mental health and respond to these difficult losses.

I think a multi-pronged approach would help you, including a clinical assessment regarding your depression, individual counseling, peer support from other first responders, and mindfulness work on your own (meditation, movement, and spending time every day in nature).

Plus, you’re grieving! For many people, this is what intense grief feels like. Sadness plus anger equals bad mood. Self-care for yourself would involve learning to be as kind and generous to yourself as you have always been to others.


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I hope you allow your family to calm you down and take care of you for a while.

The Code Green Campaign ( was founded out of concern about the unique mental health challenges of first responders. They house a useful state-by-state database of mental health professionals who work primarily with first responders, as well as a Facebook group.

I hope you remember that you are stronger when you recognize that you need help and that you absolutely deserve it.

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Dear Amy: I’m answering the “Exasperated Mom” ​​question about kids wearing masks at school.

My mother died in 1957 in the Asian flu pandemic. I caught the virus at school (I was in kindergarten) and passed it on to him.


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We lived in Aurora, Ohio.

My teacher didn’t know that there was at least one student in her classroom who passed it on to me, and maybe other students. No one was masked.

I remember being quite ill and I remember my shock and sadness when I was 5 the morning my mother died.

Contracting that disease at school created deadly chaos in our home and it has haunted me my entire life.

I am now 69 years old and the loss of my mother certainly changed the lives of my sister and our father.

This COVID-19 pandemic has brought back many memories and I am a strong advocate for masks and vaccines.

Continue to emphasize the masks and shots in your spine.

– Reverend Dr. Kay Palmer Marsh

Dear Reverend Marsh: I am so sorry that you carry this loss.


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Quoting a fascinating article on the 1957 pandemic, published in the Smithsonian Magazine (in 2020):

“The 1957-58 pandemic ultimately caused 1.1 million deaths worldwide, and follows the 1918 crisis as the second most serious influenza outbreak in United States history. About 20 million Americans were infected and 116,000 died. However, researchers estimate that one million more Americans would have died were it not for the pharmaceutical companies that distributed 40 million doses of (Maurice) Hilleman’s vaccine that fall, inoculating about 30 million people. “

Maurice Hilleman was a researcher at the Walter Reed Army Research Institute. He identified the H2N2 flu strain, raised the alarm about the looming pandemic, developed the vaccine and urged companies to speed up vaccine production.

As of this writing, nearly 4.9 million people have died of COVID-19 so far – 716,000 in the United States.

According to a global study published by the CDC (“Children: The Hidden Pandemic”), an estimated 2 million children worldwide have lost a parent or caregiver to COVID.

So far 140,000 children in the US have lost a parent / caregiver to the disease.



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