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You Asked: I'm Scared Every Day

You Asked: I'm Scared Every Day

Dear Sugar,

My father is a firefighter, and I grew up with the mentality that I needed to tell my dad I loved him every single time he went to work. When my parents divorced things changed, and since I no longer live with him or my mom, I don't get nervous every time he goes to work anymore. However, my brother just graduated from the police academy in Cleveland. He's posted in an absolutely terrible neighborhood, where people get shot on a daily basis, there's not a window without bars to be seen, and 8-year-olds are selling drugs.

I'm terrified. I get these images that he's going to get shot, or worse. He has a really bad temper, and I'm afraid he's going to get himself in trouble. Now, with my brother starting his police work, I'm starting to freak out about my dad again too. Both of their jobs are dangerous, and I think I am actually more scared for them than they are! How can I learn to deal with this fear and cope with their life-threatening jobs?

— Terrified Teresa

To see DearSugar's answer,


Dear Terrified Teresa,

I certainly applaud the men in your life for taking on such difficult but important duties, but I'm sure I'd be a worried mess if I were in your position too. Being scared is normal, but letting it overwhelm you will only make you a stress case, and certainly won't serve to protect your brother or your father. But of course ending such worries is much easier said than done.

I would recommend reaching out to a support group for family members of firefighters and police officers, which many counties do have. Just articulating your fears to other people might help you shoulder the burden. Also, get into the habit of reminding yourself, as often as you need to, that worrying isn't going to help. Instead, channel your energy into connecting with them as much as possible and letting them know that you're always thinking about them.

There is no easy answer, and I'm sure this is something that will always be in the back of your mind, but there are certain things in this life we have no control over. It is possible to be both realistic and hopeful at the same time; focus on achieving that balance.


Join The Conversation
emososays17 emososays17 8 years
I definitely sympathize with her and I think Dear had a great answer. My boyfriend is a police officer and right when he was graduating the academy Boston's gun related deaths increased drastically. It was like every day there was a shooting, even leading up to the night before they graduated when an officer was shot (but lived). Ultimately I had to come to terms with the fact that I can't change anything and I have to be confident in my boyfriend's skills as a cop. I have found that listening to my dad's old police scanner helps sometimes, just to hear is voice is nice.
HeidiMD HeidiMD 8 years
My brother is a police officer as well, and I do worry about him a lot, but every time I worry, I remember that he is doing what he loves and has dreamed of doing since he was a child. I am so proud of him everyday. I think about him and hope he comes home safely every single day, but I have so much respect for him because he does it.
fuzzles fuzzles 8 years
I think Dear's advice is great. Realize also that your brother (and father) wouldn't have made into our out of their academies if they weren't deemed capable to perform their duties. In your brother's instance, he will also be spending a good amount of time under the wing of a TO who will show him the proverbial ropes of the patrol area, and hopefully, quickly put the kabosh on any potential anger issues. Realize that it is normal to worry about loved ones in the public safety profession, but it's not necessarily productive, particularily when it becomes overwhelming. Try to funnel that worrisome energy into enjoying the here and now with your brother and father. And, as others have said, seek out a support group that consists of loved ones of police and/or firefighters. Good luck! :)
jennifer76 jennifer76 8 years
Dear's advice is great. Whatever you do, try not to let your overwhelming fear burden them. I know it is a huge weight for a soldier to carry around when his loved ones are regularly expressing their fear to him and I have no doubt it's the same for people in other dangerous jobs. I think you need to try to force yourself to view this rationally. Driving in a car is a risk and I'm sure you aren't terrified every time they hop behind the wheel. I'm sure you also don't worry constantly about heart disease or other problems that could possible befall them. You've focused on their job risks and are letting yourself lose perspective. Maybe a support group would allow you to talk to people who've learned how to maintain perspective and that may help you to learn to do it as well.
Seka21 Seka21 8 years
Unfortunately this is just life. You have to try to change your mentality to a ... "Whatever happens happens.. i cant control the future by spending my present worrying" Try to express you love for them and then let go. They know you love them you dont have to prove it.. you have to try to have faith that their training will keep them safe.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i think that finding a support group or surrounding yourself with others who have loved ones with similar jobs is a great idea. you'll start to get some of the things that they do to ease their nerves and you can apply them to your life to perhaps make it a bit easier on you. remember that they were trained - and they have the skills to do what they are doing. i think that there's something to be said about the difficulty of getting into the academy even when they are actively recruiting can't just walk in and get posted somewhere - so have faith that your brother/father/friends will be capable and safe to the best of their ability.
Muirnea Muirnea 8 years
I agree with shopaholichunny and dear's advice. Focus on letting them know you care and just tell yourself that if something happens, you will figure out how to deal with it. Other than that worrying is not going to do a thing except hurt you, so why do it?
Shopaholichunny Shopaholichunny 8 years
GREAT answer Dear! All you can really do is spend as much time with them and make sure they know that you LOVE them very much. I went through the same things when my boyfriend was in Iraq. For the first 6 months I was worried sick about him and many times I couldn't sleep because of it but I realized that it's out of my control. If something happens to him I will have to deal with it but at least I know that he knows how much he means to me. :) Good luck hun.
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