I have just started with my internship with the Phoenix Fire Department. It is probably one of the more intense internships but I love it. The fire department has a crisis team arrive whenever someone dies at home. The crisis team assists the individuals that were at the home when the individual died. This includes suicide, pool drowning, and murder. The teams have counselors on them so counseling for the survivors begins at the scene.
I have been challenged to begin counseling before the body is even removed. Many times I will be at the kitchen table with the surviving family members waiting for the Medical Examiner and we will begin talking about the stages of grief. It is a practice in choosing your words well, staying calm, and working on empathetic listening skills. I work hard at giving individuals, in their darkest moment, a safe place to question how they will proceed. Many times I will begin the process of calling the mortuary. While on the scene I am given the opportunity to identify individuals that would benefit from longer counseling and I am able to offer my services.
This position has allowed me to grow in areas with high levels of emotion. I have practiced entering a dark scene and keeping my peace internally. I have learned when to speak and when to remain quiet. I have been challenged not to judge the scene or create a bias but rather to treat each individual as a separate entity regardless of my personal feelings. I have learned that nothing is as it appears, that the story is always much deeper and more involved.
Nothing is as it appears…. I have known that before now but this position with the fire department has shown that to me over and over. Humans are full of history. Many times as humans we are hardly aware of how much our history affects our present day choices and actions. So many times as humans we don’t want to go back and deal with our histories so as a consequence our history continues to have a large role.
I will be with the fire department until June. I look forward to my many lessons in life. The picture above is the van that I travel in to the scene with a partner. It is filled with resources and any sort of supply that brings comfort (water, snacks, blankets, etc). I am thankful for this position. I will have to work 12-hour shifts. I will be doing a reverse 24 hour shift that means I will go from 7:00pm-7:00pm. I will try to sleep at the firehouse between calls.
When I do activities that are uncomfortable I remind myself that it produces growth. This internship although challenging in every way is helping me focus on my personal career and goals. It helps me as I am learning to let go of my darling daughters. I have found it rather comforting during this period of life to be with strangers that are in need of comfort. It causes me to completely forget about my concerns and focus on another. Moving out of your own pain and focusing your attention on another is healing.