I had the chance to talk with and learn the story of Jordyn Goddard. Jordyn is a firefighter in the state of Virginia and a former educator. We spent about 90 minutes on the phone. The initial plan was to talk, get comfortable, and learn her story. It took about 30 minutes before I realized this, like Adam’s interview in episode 17, was the show. Jordyn spoke passionately and eloquently about grief, her loss, and her work toward recovery.


Stack: Thank Joining me for another episode of the things we all carry. Today’s show is one that I recorded weeks ago when I had the chance to sit down and talk with and learn the story of Jordyn Goddard. Jordyn is a firefighter in the state of Virginia and a former educator. We spend about 90 minutes on the phone. The initial plan was to talk and get comfortable and learn her story.

It took me about 30 minutes before I decided, and I realized that like Adam’s interview in episode 17, this was the show. Jordyn spoke passionately and eloquently about grief, her loss and her work towards recovery. I wasn’t sure why I sat on this interview as long as I did. Uh, voice kept telling me that the time just wasn’t right. And I’m happy. I waited.

Now as a time. And I say that from a selfish point

My department lost a firefighter. Two weeks ago.

My friend And former crew member was found dead one morning. It was determined that he died from natural causes. Derek death has rocked our department in general and me specifically. His death, like any other begs the question of why. Unfortunately, there isn’t an answer to that question, but the loss has created grief as it normally does.

As a question, which shows should be released this week, that voice in my head screamed at me and I rushed to find Jordyn’s interview. I listened through a couple of times and I prepped it for release. The experience she shares in the battle. She outline, speaks to me today, as I learned to deal with my own grief.

I want to thank Jordyn for being so open, honest, and raw, her story has already helped before it’s even been released. A quick reminder to please help us build a community which not only recognizes. But support each other through the struggles and recovery. Reach out through Instagram at the things we all

Or email my To offer support and share your story. Please remember to leave a review on iTunes and give a shout out to any first responder, you know, love or care about y’all enjoy the show.

Fire departments. Don’t like to talk about suicide because It’s we don’t like to talk right. And so I started forcing that issue. And then I had an idea for a podcast and I didn’t know where I wanted to go with it. And then it just came together and this is what,

This is what came out

all right. Tell me about your family life.

Jordyn: My family is, or was a fire service family. That’s how my parents met. My mom was. A paramedic and absolutely loved her job and worked in PG county for several years in Maryland. And my dad at the time was a fireman also in PG county. Basically born out of their volunteer system and that’s how they met. And my mom wrote this kind of like memoirs.

About her life. And she described it they’re meeting as a joke, where she had to. Take fire classes that she really didn’t want to take, because it was all about paramedic life for her. And she met my dad and. Yeah. So that’s how they. How they met and both of them.

I just remember both of them describing that. It respectively. Was the best job that they had ever had in the world and that they really didn’t feel like they ever went to work. It was just something that they love to do. And. And I really admired that. And. Even though both of them were in the fire service together. I didn’t.

I didn’t grow up like in the firehouse. If that makes any sense, I didn’t

Stack: total

Jordyn: I didn’t have any inkling of. What I was getting into when I switched careers a couple of years ago, I didn’t. I didn’t have any idea how a firehouse worked. I didn’t know the difference between an engine and a tower. Like nothing, 0%. I just knew that. Both my parents described it as something that they absolutely loved. And I wanted

And so that was part of my inspiration. I was an elementary school teacher in prince George’s county in Baltimore. County’s. For six years and then I got burned out. I got fed up. And I said, okay, it’s time for part two of this story. And I remember his December 28th. 2018 and my dad and I were having dinner

Bonefish grill, which was our place. And I told him that is what I wanted to do. And he looked at me. With concern. And questioned whether or not I knew what I was getting myself into. And I said, Nope, but I’m sure that I want to do it. And. Days after that, he helped me look into applications and here we are today.

My family was an integral inspiration for where I am. Now and. Yeah, I just I am glad that I made the switch.

Stack: Where’d you grow up in PG?

Jordyn: So I guess technically I was born there. Yes. But I grew up in Southern, Maryland in Calvert county.

And my parents were divorced when I think I was in fifth grade. Or so by that time, my mom was out of the fire service and my dad, I believe, had moved To something else. And. Then he came back around to the fire service in the early 2000 teens, I believe. And. I, yeah I had a.

Weird reaction to my parents getting divorced at the time. And that’s a weird age too. Have something like that happen just because.

Stack: have that age in common by the way. So

Jordyn: We do. Okay. So you’re old enough to know that things are going on, but not really old enough to understand why. And yeah, I would be. Remiss if I said that didn’t affect, my view on things now, but.

Things got uncomfortable for a while. And then I eventually rebuilt. My family relationships and. That’s where we are now.

Stack: What do you mean by that? You’d be remiss. If you said it didn’t affect things now.

Jordyn: Just my view on how I relate to people. What’s normal in terms of relationships. I used to. I guess during that time, I didn’t really know any better, but I thought. It affected my view on work. Essentially, because I always thought that work was taking my dad’s time away from.

What would have better been spent on his kids?


So I can’t really say that. I remember a whole lot about that, but just things like that, that I’ve carried with me for the last 20 years or so that have shaped how I view things now.

Stack: So you said kids, how many siblings do you have?

Jordyn: I have a brother, a younger and he is 28 and I have a younger sister who is 25.

. So we’re all adults now.

Stack: Yeah. Hell yeah. Definitely

Jordyn: we’re all we’re all dealing with things a little bit. A little bit differently now. That we’re all grown

Stack: So where’d you go to school?

Jordyn: I went to a school in Calvert county. And graduated from Huntingtown high school, which was new at the time. And then I pursued. My bachelor’s. A degree in elementary education at the university of Maryland college park. So put my blood, sweat and tears into all of that and survived six years.

Stack: Yeah.

Jordyn: And the education field and then had to up and

Stack: Education field can take it out of you. I know that feeling. I before I joined the fire service, I worked with autistic kids in the education setting. Mostly. And I did behavior plans. I was, my work was in applied behavior analysis. So it can definitely wear

Jordyn: It’ll take its toll. And the funny part is that a lot of people who know that part of, my backstory being an educator. The biggest comment is I guess you’re not really in a profession. That’s much different.

Stack: When they find out I worked with autistic is that’s the same thing they tell me.

Jordyn: Yeah. And aside from the obvious things, it’s really not that different, except for that. Now the kids are older.

They’re adult age.

Stack: I like to joke and say that firefighting is safer than working with autistic kids.

Jordyn: I’ve, I wouldn’t say that you’re wrong.

Stack: No. Especially the population I was working with. So.

I know.

I commiserating with the burnout in the education field. Cause I did that for roughly 20 years before I joined the fire

Jordyn: That’s amazing.

Stack: the same thing as you. I decided to look for something that, that I wanted to do different. And I had no idea. I didn’t know the difference between an engine and a truck and a rescue. And as they was all foreign language to me, when I joined the fire service.

Jordyn: But we’re public servants at heart. So I think we ended up in the right profession.

Stack: I

Jordyn: Yeah.

Stack: All right. So you joined Fairfax. What year?

Jordyn: Recently 2019 was my hire date. So I’m still very much a baby. I have a lot to learn and I went through their academy. I was the largest academy that Fairfax has ever seen with 60 people.

Stack: I was going to say that saying something. Cause you guys like us put through pretty big academies.

Jordyn: Yeah. It was I was a little worried. Just because of my lack of experience and I was. I was concerned that I wasn’t going to get the sets and reps as they call it for things that I just have. I. I needed time with and I made it through after.


six months of that process. And we were the O G COVID class, we were really trying to figure that all out as. COVID was going down and. It was It was an experience. We did not have a public graduation or anything like that. And. For those reasons. And I was glad to be done when I was

Stack: So I think that’s interesting because you don’t know the fire service. Without COVID.

Jordyn: That’s correct. Yeah, that was something that. Once I made it into the field. I, we were going on calls and dressing out and. In a lot of extensive PPE and. I haven’t. No. I didn’t know the fire service without masks and this protective PPE and all of that.

Until maybe a year and a half later. And all of a sudden I realized, oh my gosh, I’m going on my first call without a mask on my face. And it was like this big deal. I’m actually pretty sure I remember the exact date May 27th.

But yeah it’s wild, but. Yeah, that kind of shaped how things went for me the first year and a half or so. And It was an experience, but I remember just taught, I still follow a lot of teachers. My social media platforms and things like that. And I couldn’t all of a sudden couldn’t relate to.

Them talking about how vastly different things were in terms of their careers. And I’m sitting over here oh, okay. The only thing that I have to do different is. Protect myself. I’m still going to work every single day and, still. Still meeting the regular expectations of my job. So I couldn’t relate to them on that at all.

Stack: And that’s a good point. I talked to somebody, I don’t know how long ago it was, but I, they asked how COVID affected

And I said it really didn’t affect us. We made our changes at work and it was odd. It was odd to get used to, like you said, wearing all the PPE and all the precautions. But we didn’t the world didn’t stop for us.

Jordyn: Not really.

Stack: I kept going to work and you If anything, our calls increased and kept busy. Even busier. And the w.

The rest of the world was sitting at home and getting groceries delivered because they’re afraid to go out we’re out all the time. And so

Jordyn: wild.

Stack: I don’t think COVID now. Obviously we had our COVID calls. And listen, I didn’t like taking dying patients out of their homes. Due to COVID. But we still, we just got up, went to work.

Yeah, it didn’t affect us the way it affected general public

Jordyn: No. I remember watching the news and listening to. Everybody at the firehouse they’ve got families and stuff like that. And everybody’s reactions were so wildly different than I guess mine was. I was just, I don’t, I just doing the things I graduated to do

Stack: yeah. And. And it almost at one point I, I, Completely lost track of it because of family. And I.

didn’t realize how it was affecting family. And then it was like, wait, should I feel guilty? Because it doesn’t bother me that like the. The changes haven’t bothered me.

Jordyn: Yeah.

Stack: It was. It’s something weird. To think through, I

Jordyn: Yeah. At the time when I was going through the academy, I was living with my significant other Jason and he’s, he was like a web developer. Somebody who already had a job that was, could potentially work from home and didn’t necessarily need an office space. And I remember just his reaction versus my reaction was it was quite different.

And. Yeah. Like I remember being concerned obviously for his safety, but for. For mine. I It just wasn’t the same.

Stack: Yeah.

I, and I agree. It’s exactly what it is. That was exactly the feeling then. And I’m the only person. That sounds bad. Not the only person, the person I was worried the most about was my mom, because right before COVID struck and became a thing, she was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer.

And that was the one worry I had with the job and my life. So I was going down to Tennessee quite often to, to help out because she was still living by herself and she needed some care every once in a while. So I was going down to Tennessee, so I was traveling. I was coming back and I was doing my tour.

And I was being exposed left and right. And then and then I’m going down to Tennessee And I’m just worried that I’m bringing this into our home. And thankfully At the same time my sister changed jobs and she was able to move to Tennessee and stay with her and sit. There was stability

That was my main concern was do what happens if I get her sick because I could handle COVID. But but it immunocompromised. As she is. There’s no way she could have handled it.

Jordyn: Yeah. And you, and I had that, have that in

Just because my dad during right during the height of COVID was also diagnosed with stage four cancer. And I remember not really having an opinion about. I like vaccines or COVID vaccines. And really the only thing on my mind was, okay if the vaccines are available and he’s in the hospital, I got worried that hospitals would start to require COVID vaccines for visitors.

And so I got my COVID vaccine because I wanted to make sure that I was able to go and visit if, if I could. So that’s why I got that. But yeah. My. My dad was diagnosed with a stage four bladder cancer in January of 2021. And I can only assume that it was the results. Of fire-fighting. The man had a 30, 35 year firefighting career in various positions and.

He had suffered from prostate cancer and melanoma and all sorts of stuff, that. May or may not have been attributed to this career. But this is the one that was, it was the big one. And it, from what I read. Sarcomatoid carcinoma, which is a very rare. Type of bladder cancer. I think accounts for less than 1% of all cancers ever. And then I believe the statistic is 0.3% of all bladder cancers.

Stack: Wow.

Jordyn: It was very rare. And he ultimately, he died from eight months later on September 1st, 2021.

Stack: Eight months.

Jordyn: It was very aggressive and it was very shocking.

And yeah.

Stack: Obviously at stage four, it had spread.

Jordyn: It was affecting.

Multiple organs at that point. There. The pro the. The survivability of this type of cancer is very dismal. It’s very low. I think it’s something somewhere between 10 and 15%. And. He ended up. At Johns Hopkins. Under the care of one of their leading oncologists who specializes in this specific type of cancer. And eventually he.

He even enrolled in a study for this particular type of cancer. I think he was number 16. Participant number 16 and the very first firefighter to. Basically when they attempted to take this cancer out of his body, they shipped it off so they could research it essentially. So four months into.

His treatments, they decided to. Go in and surgically remove whatever they could. In the hope that it would cut down on the size of this, this sickness inside of him. And there was at one point a 50 50 shot that he would die on their table. Or come out of it. Better and for awhile he was better. And then yes, like you said, it

It did end up spreading. It did end up metastasizing and. There was really nothing more that they could do. Outside of, making the decision to move to home hospice and essentially just die.

Stack: those eight months, I had to assume that the, it was just. Very aggressive chemo and radiation as well.

Jordyn: Yes. So I, and this is part of where kind of my guilt surrounding all of this comes in.

I don’t remember. A lot of this. And I don’t know if it’s because I have really just blocked it

Or. If I was really around as little as I think I was my dad was a very proud person. He didn’t. He didn’t really want others to worry about him. He kept.

Kept. His previous sicknesses between himself and his wife. And I think this was one of those things where. Me and my siblings and even my mom who also was concerned about him. W we were just late on the uptake. I suppose we were we were second in line to know a lot of the things that were going on. And

When the decision was made to. Use this cocktail of chemotherapy and stuff. We didn’t know until a little bit later that was the decision. I don’t remember what it was. I don’t remember for how long he had it. I don’t even remember where he went to go get

But it.

Stack: tough to hold guilt for that. If you was kept from you.

Jordyn: I don’t think it was on purpose. I really don’t, it’s just, I wasn’t physically there you were mentioning that you spent a lot of time. With your mom down south. And I had just made my way into the fire service and I.

I don’t know. I just, I wasn’t there a lot. And whenever I would call my dad and it was every day, I was calling him like every day. It was, Hey, tell me about your day or tell me three things that you learned today from your fire It was always about the job. Which was helping me. And I think it was helping him because it was a distraction, but also.

I think my dad and I had. Some sort of an unwritten understanding that we would just. Not talk about. His life as if it was ending.

Stack: Yeah. That’s not easy.

Jordyn: Yeah, I think he started to rely on that. A little bit. Especially toward the end where. His death was imminent and I. I just, sometimes I look back on that time and I wish. I had been more on top of his treatments and his timelines and things like that, because now talking about it now, I don’t even have any idea.

It’s a weird balancing act between I think I might’ve done the right thing and I wish I had done something different.

Stack: Yeah, that’s a. That I completely understand.

Jordyn: Yeah. And

Yeah, that’s. That’s a really all there is to it. I, I. Aye. I felt

a little naive after he died, because.

The only thing. The only two things in my mind, we’re at complete odds with each other. I knew that this cancer was going to kill him. I knew that this like this at some point. Would be the end. But, little five-year-old me. Inside is also oh, of course he’s going to get better. That’s just what he’s always done. And so they were at complete odds with each other and I think I was still shocked.

When he died because.

That was the only available option in my five-year-old brain was that he was going to get better and he was going to recover after his surgery and after multiple interventions. And. It just, yeah it’s still a shock even now.

Stack: It’s that superhero that he is.

Jordyn: Yeah, that’s pretty much it. But, in my head, I was supposed to have 20 more years. Of getting to call him up. After every fire I had during any promotional process that I decided to participate in at the end of each shift to tell them things that I learned. And yeah, I don’t have that anymore. And it has severely affected.

My passion for. This job. I I don’t really know where that passion is. The second, but I know work is generally the safest place for me, but. It’s been a long year trying to figure out how to get that passion back.

Stack: And so before this, you lost your significant other.

Jordyn: Yeah. So September 1st. My dad died. And then on May 3rd. So almost exactly four months prior, May 3rd. My significant other whom I had. Had a complicated relationship with he died of a drug overdose. He had a history of alcoholism for about 20 years and. We were in the process of making arrangements to basically go our separate ways and.

Yeah, he. Overdosed on Vicodin. So I heard. And. I didn’t find out about his death until two weeks after it actually happened. Because everybody assumed, I knew because of social media, which I had no idea. And I missed the funeral. I missed basically any opportunity to actually grieve his loss at an appropriate time. People grieve at funerals and things like that. So I missed all of those opportunities and I look back now and

Truthfully attribute. A lot of my success in the fire academy to this man to this. This selfless person who knew that there were going to be sacrifices that he would need to make for six months as I went through the process. And he did all of those things and right in the middle of COVID two.

And. As I was in the academy, I think COVID had a pretty profound impact on him And so did my schedule and he relapsed and tried to. Come back. From rehab a changed person and. He slipped right back into.

Right back into old habits, unfortunately, and then ultimately died.

To say that the last two years has been a whirlwind would be an understatement.

Stack: Yeah. That’s a lot for anybody. One of those is a lot for anybody to take or, between a fire academy, a change in changing profession. You’re losing a significant or losing your father. The COVID all of it. That’s a lot of change

Jordyn: Yeah, I’ve learned.

I’ve learned a lot about.

Our. Perception. Humans perception of death and dying. And. It’s dealing with those things, or even just being adjacent to those things as a friend or as a parent watching their child. Going through. Something or as a. A spouse or whatever. We don’t really get taught how to do those things. We don’t get taught how to be there for people who have experienced loss.

And I remember listening in. In Lauren’s podcast that, when she was in the hospital people would come around for the first several months and. And then they didn’t and then they stopped. And that is exactly what happens. To people who have experienced loss.

People stop inquiring people. Stop asking how you are and eventually it gets to a point where

In my head at least,

People are looking at me and saying, okay, are you done yet

Are you over it yet? have you moved on yet or have you moved forward yet And

That’s like I said, it might be all in my head that might not be what people are actually thinking, but some are, and

That’s a really, it’s a really Easy way to get To isolate somebody who has experienced these things And

We don’t get taught how to validate somebody or how to appropriately speak to someone who has experienced loss And so I’ve made it Made it my mission over the last year or so to really educate, kindly educate people on.

Things that you just don’t say or things that would be a little bit more helpful to say. And I. Even created a lecture that I

deliver to our incoming recruits

As a result of this. So I can’t say everything

That has come of this experience has been negative. It’s taught me a lot about myself and given me another opportunity to give back to an organization that has done a lot for me But it’s still sucks It’s still pretty

Stack: Yeah, it is And like you say something, if something good can come from it. Obviously. Not to be cliche, but that’s the best you can hope for.

Jordyn: I just, I. I think one of the biggest struggles that I have experienced is a lack of purpose. I’m not quite sure where my life is going. I’m not quite sure where my career is going. I’m not sure where my motivation is. It’s all. It’s all in the wind right now. And

anything that kind of gives me a little bit of And usually it’s education-related ironically If I can educate someone or a group of someones on how to best. Be there. During these times then. Okay. Like I can accept that that, that is a little bit. Of my purpose, trying to return to me.

Stack: All right. That being said, what have you found? What are you teaching

Jordyn: Death is. Is imminent. It’s going to happen to all of us. It’s going to happen to the people that we love and given our profession, we’re going to witness it a lot and we’re going to be adjacent to. People who are dying or dead. And then the loved ones of people who have died. And.

There are a lot of really cliche things that.

Not only first responders tend to say, but just people in general tend to say. Because it seems like a really good alternative to silence

Or to not saying anything at all. And among those cliche kind of sayings Are things like they’re in a better place now or God wanted another angel or everything happens for a reason

I even had a healthcare provider try to tell me in science-y terms that there are 7.8 million billion whatever They said people who experienced loss every day and I’m sitting here wow Thank you for making my loss feel special and There are just certain things that I have found that have triggered

And it might be different for somebody else even if they’re in a very similar situation having lost a parent or significant But There Are a lot of things that we can do In those situations that are better than trying to bring religion into it or saying that everything happens for a reason. Okay. What was that reason?

Stack: Me the reason God

Jordyn: to me that reason.

Yeah, so there are a lot of better things that we can say. And I think. I think. rests with. People becoming comfortable with something inherently uncomfortable. It rests in people’s ability to.

Too. Say that, they’re sorry for that. Person’s loss and mean it and. And that’s okay. Like you can stop there. It. I’ve tried to encourage people. Who. Are adjacent to somebody who has experienced loss to. Offer to do something specific for them. A lot of people. In times of distress will offer well, if there’s anything that you need, let me know. I don’t know.

Like I had no idea what I needed, who I needed in what capacity I needed them. In those several weeks months that followed those two deaths, I’d no clue. And so offering something more specific, Hey, let me I had a one friend of mine send me a grub hub gift card so I could order food. I had.

I had another person.

Offer to come and take care of my pets while I was, I don’t know, off doing something else. And so those specific things really take the burden off of somebody who has. Experienced loss to make yet another decision. Another favorite of mine that I’ve gotten, especially recently, because now some time has passed between.

Those deaths and now is why don’t you consider therapy? I don’t want your advice. And if I wanted it, I would have asked for it. So unsolicited advice has been one of my biggest kind of pet peeves, because I just want people to listen. And I think that should be okay. And so I’ll kindly remind people who reach out to me. I don’t like I don’t need, I don’t need you to tell me to go write in a journal. I don’t need you to tell me that I should go get professional help. I don’t need you to tell me.

These things. I just, I really just need to talk right now and I just need you to listen without trying to fix my problems. All of those things are really uncomfortable, especially being a first responder, being a firefighter because we have these hands, and we want to magically fix. These problems. We want to be there for.

Somebody who is. Not in a good way there. They’re not doing well. And our default I have found is trying to. Do something to lessen that awkwardness when really you just can’t and that’s okay. And it has to be okay. Yeah, that’s what I ended up building into. This lecture that I created, I had an opportunity to take an instructor class through Fairfax county and me being a former teacher. I.

I was already familiar with a lot of the course content, but it did give me an opportunity to really focus on the end product. Which was. It was a lecture. It was a public speaking kind of challenge for me. And I put a lot of research. And a lot of my personal experiences into what has now become really an honor for me to deliver to recruits.

And obviously there’s a first responder spin on

Because inevitably you’re going to be in a position where you’re in front of somebody who has just lost someone. And it’s good to have some awareness in your back pocket of what to do and what not to do.

Stack: Yeah.

Jordyn: That was a lot.

Stack: It’s definitely something that’s lacking in the fire service is not just lacking at the academy level, but apparently it’s lacking. If you run a medic class, it was like we do in prince William, it’s lacking. It’s lacking there. And those are the people that are going So much more likely to deal with death in the families.

And the effects after that death.

Jordyn: It is. It is. And the, the key thing that I try to hammer home is. Especially as medics And first responders were there for a very finite amount of time. And, we don’t, we haven’t developed necessarily the rapport that may be a physician has, or a doctor or hospital staff has with.

A patient’s. Patient’s family, but we are right in, we are in the perfect position to start at least facilitating that grieving process. And. Creating space for somebody’s reaction. Like it’s okay. This sucks. And there’s nothing I can do about it, except be here. And witness And answer any questions that you might have and try to give you some resources if you want them.

It’s it’s a really messy process that quite frankly, we have the honor to be there for. If you think about death in, in various cultures, it’s usually a very. Sacred, very divine thing. And nobody’s invited except for us. And. Yeah, it’s just it’s become a very. Important thing for me to get across to people who were formally in my position who have really no experience.

With the, either this job or losing somebody in their life up to this point and. I think it’s been therapeutic.

In a lot of ways to channel. A lot of negative energy that I still have quite frankly. Into something a little bit more positive.

Stack: Something that, that I guess it has been on my mind in the job is like you said, teaching people how to deal with the families.

And there’s a, there’s an old, not an old saying, but there’s this. Lyric from a song that I know, and it just says nobody dies with dignity.

And it’s true.

Especially in our job, it’s very rare that the patients we see are going to die with dignity. Most often we’re working on a code.

And that’s not dignity.

And so what we do after that has got to make a change for the family. And so I think it’s finding that way to dignify that death. Maybe. Like you said, just acknowledging that there’s a loss there.

Offering a resource and then I think more important. More importantly, but equally important is being able to just sit in the silence that might be necessary.

Jordyn: Yeah, I. I recently had an experience where, okay

It’s specifically referencing, our line of work. Normally. Somebody who is a paramedic or an officer is sent to inform family members. And to they’re like the extra hands. That aren’t, in the process of doing tasks and things like that. I had an experience.

Within the last couple of weeks, actually, where. I And was the only one. Who. Was sitting. With a wife. Whose husband had just committed suicide.

I was sitting. With her. As she cried. And there’s nothing. There’s nothing that there’s nothing that I can do. Except sit there. And tell her how normal her reactions are. And then surprisingly she brought over her. daughter. Who was also in the vicinity. And. Mom went to go make a phone call. And I was sitting next to this 10 year old girl.

And she. Asked me. Point blank is my dad dead.

And I was like, whoa.

I I’m not sure if I am in a position with a parent present to be the one to share this And. So I, I made the decision to say something like my partner is currently running some tests to figure out what happened. And then she looked at me again. She said, I don’t know why I’m not crying. And all of a sudden I was looking at myself.

Through. Her eyes because her and I had the very same reaction numbness very dissociated. And. I hated being in that position. However, I knew that as a result of my experiences, that I was the right person to be in that position. And in, in the fire service we gravitate toward. toward.

problems and we try to fix them, but we all know that there is that person on our shift or that person in our battalion

Who is not the right person to do this one thing Regardless of their time and

Stack: we all know who it

Jordyn: We all we can all pinpoint that person. And conversely, we can all pinpoint the person. Who you know is right for the task. And so you set your own pride aside and let them do. This thing. And that was me for that particular call. And it was awful. I’m.

I think back on it now. And I just I saw myself. In that situation and I’m never, from this point on, I’m never not going to see myself. And I feel like. As. Crappy as the past year and a half or two years have been. It’s prepared me for a section of this job that people aren’t prepared for.

And it really makes me look at certain things differently. It really. Expands my situational awareness. Two. Include. The people standing by it’s so important.

Stack: It is very important and to be. You’re the second person. Just described it to me as we get this honor to be there.

Jordyn: Yeah. It really is.

Stack: that’s such a shift in thinking that I think people need to be aware of. We get immune to it. Unfortunately.

And we, I don’t know how many times we all go out on a code and work, work a code, and then. It’s not. You have the dark humor. Okay. I hope dinner is still cold or still hot or whatever,

we get immune to it. And then we make comments amongst ourselves. And it’s our way of dealing with our way of moving on from it. So we can go out and do the next call. But you never get immune to it. And it’s just, like I said it’s shifting that paradigm from, oh man. We’re just, we’re here’s another one to, oh, wait. Let’s help this family through that list, aunt.

Let’s recognize what an honor it is to be helping that

Jordyn: Yeah. I really hope that if there is any kind of a shift in mentality that it’s that one, Unless you have experienced loss. Then. First of all, your come like your time is coming. And you’ll understand the things that you don’t, that you don’t understand yet. But I really hope that.

People see. That no matter how many. And, death revolves around. CPR. No matter how many CPRS we go it’s still going to be a privilege for me too. This sounds terrible. It’s still going to be a privilege for me to watch that person die. And to be there knowing that I did what I could.

And. Now that their dad, let me turn my attention to somebody else who needs it more now. Who needs more comfort now who needs more?

More explanation who needs space, who needs. Something to help start that process. And. I go on these calls now and I even, we have an overdose and I see my significant other, we have an alcoholic and I also see him. We have somebody with cancer. I see my dad. We have somebody. Who is actively, getting CPR or who’s on home hospice. I see these people now and I can’t unsee them. And that.

makes me. Such a better provider in the most unfortunate way.


It’s like I said, we’re all going to be there eventually, whether we You know where the provider or where the patient or we are. The patient’s loved one. We’re all going to be there. And. I hate to have to attribute this to people dying in my life, but I get it now. And. It sucks.

Stack: And that’s a point that I don’t think people, especially younger firefighters or younger I don’t understand you.

It’s going to get us all.

Jordyn: Yeah, why would

Stack: No. I agree. Yeah. Yeah, no, I didn’t at that age, but. And once you, like you say, once you get that taste of it and you realize, oh shit, This is for everybody.

Jordyn: Yeah. It really is. And. Bringing this little bit full circle. Aye. I’m depressed. Like I, I struggle with massively intrusive thoughts. I am still trying to figure out. How to deal with emotions and feelings that I’ve never felt before that I never thought I would feel for, X amount more years.

And I think that sometimes dealing with this would be easier if I wasn’t a firefighter. If I didn’t share. This profession. With. The only person. That I want to share things with.

But I can’t because he’s dead. And yeah, I just, I think.

There’s a lot that is still going on.

With me, that people wouldn’t really expect. And. I was very. Very fortunate. At the time of both of those deaths to. Be with a crew that I knew was going to be there for me, that I knew was my second family and who. Went out of their way to not treat me any differently. that I had these major events in my life. And I started, I started to see work as a safe place, even though I, admittedly wake up sometimes in the morning and work is the last place I want to go.

It ends up being the safest place for me, because I have people there that I know that I can rely on and. I get home from work and I’m stuck. I’m still stuck and I’m going to be stuck for a long time. And it.

Sad as a very comfortable place to be. And that’s very dangerous realization because there are some days where I don’t want to get better. I don’t want.

I don’t want anyone’s help. I don’t.

don’t want to see anybody and. Grief thrives in isolation. That’s for sure. But it’s just going to be a long road.

From here on out.

Stack: So you develop a program to help Prepare or equip themselves.

Jordyn: That’s

It’s like a little piece of what I’ve been able to do with this time.

Stack: What else do you do for yourself?

Jordyn: I well the biggest piece of advice that my mom gave me before I joined the fire department was to keep a journal and I’ve been journaling all my life, but now it’s taken on a new. Like a new significance. Just because it’s where, journaling. And for me, it’s not blogging. I don’t type any of my entries or whatever. Journaling specifically with pen and paper.

Helps slow my brain down and it really holds me accountable for.

Just working through and identifying. Emotions like hard emotions. And it’s helped me figure out where my triggers are. It’s helped me figure out. Patterns in myself that don’t serve me. And it’s brought, it’s helped me. Develop. A new. Updated awareness of where my body is given the recent events where my mind is given recent events.

And it has been helpful. And to sit here and say that I’ve talked to a bunch of my friends about. You know what I’m going through. That would be a lie because I don’t have that many. That’s one of the unfortunate side effects of this experience is that is very isolating. And I have effectively burned a lot of those relationships to the ground. Unfortunately.

Just because at that point they weren’t serving me and I didn’t know how to communicate.

What I needed or what I wanted. And

I spent a lot of time. On my own. I try to do something physical with my body every day. Because it’s it’s a good stress release. I A lot. I find refuge in, in helping people. I find refuge and working at our academy. Teaching ironically enough. In. I find refuge in routine and as chaotic as our job is.

It’s pretty routine. You go there, you get there at a certain time, you check out your equipment, you go to line up, you run calls and you work out at roughly the same time. If you can. And there, there is an element of routine to it. And so I think Specifically for me has been very important.

I have. Not chosen to see a therapist. Because I. Think that for me specifically, it has been extremely important. As somebody who historically sweeps feelings underneath the rug, it’s been very important for me to be able to identify them and name them on my own and collect myself before I go and talk.

To somebody who can maybe give me some additional strategies, but in terms of self-awareness, I, it may sound prideful to say this, but I don’t necessarily think that they’re going to make me aware of anything else. That I haven’t already made myself aware of. And that’s not to say. That people haven’t reached out. We have a great behavioral health organization in Fairfax and they’ve reached out, out of concern and.

I have respectfully declined and that’s okay. And people have been okay with that. But yeah there’s nothing special. About what I’m doing or what I have done. It’s just. I’ll get there eventually. And I’m just taking it very slowly at this point.

Stack: Grief. Grief. And the dealing with brief just comes in waves.

Jordyn: Yeah.

Stack: And it’s I don’t know. I hate I always use cliches and I hate them, but it’s a rolling with the punches thing at

Jordyn: It is, and that’s not cliche at all. And because that’s exactly what it is a punch, I woke up this morning. And I knew that I was going to be speaking with you and I got very emotional about it and considered rescheduling because I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to talk about

And I woke up yesterday and was feeling pretty neutral and tomorrow might be vastly different and I might wake up and. Just cry. I don’t know. I like, I have no idea what’s coming next. The best that I can do is try to identify my triggers and. Give. Due diligence. To my grieving process for both people.

And that’s hard. Especially because those two events happened within close proximity to one another. And. Eventually. Aye. Hope to share more about this because I did for a while, I did share a lot of my process at the onset because I didn’t really know what else to do. I was sharing.

My process over social media and giving updates and things, and people have been grateful for that. And those who have chosen to not follow that. That’s cool too, because it’s not relevant to your life I understand.

Stack: Important yet.

Jordyn: Yeah. Yes. But in recent months, I’ve cut back on that. And this here, this podcast has been a great opportunity to open up about this. Very confusing. I almost feel like I’ve been talking in circles a little bit.

Stack: No, not at all.

Jordyn: it feels like every single That’s what it feels like. Grief brain is a very real thing.

Stack: Is that an actual

Jordyn: I think it is. I don’t know like what the scientific basis around it is, but I am I’m way less efficient. I’ll get it’s very scatterbrained. I. I I remember I had this incident with somebody else who. I was in my own head. I was miles away. Thinking about my dad. I was on my way to work.

And just completely stuck in my own head. And I remember somebody That I work with said good morning to me. And I didn’t hear, like I was, I did not hear any words. Come out of. Their mouth and they approach me later to ask what they were doing wrong. To ask if I, if there was a problem between me and them and I was like, oh my gosh, no, this is not.

And how do you explain that to somebody who doesn’t really know you? How do you go about explaining. A whole history.

Too. Somebody you’re not quite familiar with. And that’s my worry about trying to find. A professional therapist to maybe help me. Is that okay? There’s maybe two people on the face of this planet who I have chosen to confide in. And who has been there for really big, really uncomfortable things in the capacity that I have needed.

And now I have to go and try to establish a relationship with somebody else. Who.

There’s a 50 50 shot that they’re going to get And there’s a 50 50 shot that they are not going to be the right person and I’m going to shut down.

Stack: Yeah.

Jordyn: So it’s it. That’s a hard decision to make. A lot of I feel like a lot of people who are grief adjacent who are around somebody who has experienced Are there at the right place at the right time, because you just, when you experienced loss, you just never know. Your grief you’re, excuse me. Your brain is in survival mode. It’s in fight or flight mode. And so you just never know when you’re going to come down enough to accept.

The condolences or the help that somebody is trying to give you. And. I. Right, right place, right time for those one or two people. And.

That’s that, but that’s the extent of my relationships right now.

Stack: You had that, all that loss for in a quick amount of time.

so you have to be hesitant. I would imagine you have to be.

Jordyn: Yeah.

Yeah. I don’t really have anything else.

Stack: Right.

Jordyn: To say about that. Like you very quickly. Find out.

Who. Is really there and who’s going to stay. it forces you to reevaluate. Your whole life, your relationships, the people And you have to do. You have to do an inventory, whether you like it or not to. Shed. People places, situations that are not what you need. And that’s a hard process and there’s a lot of guilt involved in that as well.

But at that point, I feel like it’s okay to be a little bit selfish. It’s okay to do what you need to do to take care of yourself. And if that involves cutting people or gaining new people, And then that just has to be okay.

Stack: Oh, it Definitely.

has to be okay. And like you said, you have to do what you need to do for

Jordyn: Yeah.

Stack: You have two.

Jordyn: Yep. But from here, I don’t really the future holds really? I, since my dad’s death, I have not. Been to a major working fire. And I dread it now. I absolutely dread it. I know that’s my job and of course I’m going to go and I’m going to do my But. After that’s all said and done, it’s going to hit me and it’s going to hit me hard that I can’t.

Call him.

And debrief. And even though he listened to the scanner, I know he did. It’s going to be hard, not talking about those things. With the only person. I want to talk about those things with, we’re going to see how it goes. Eventually it’s inevitable. That time is coming.

Stack: So basically for you like everybody else, the future’s in the air. It’s just. That’s the truth for everybody. Correct?

Jordyn: Trauma does that

And yes it’s in the air. I had aspirations before that. I no longer see for myself. I feel some days as if I’m just. Going through the motions, actually that’s probably most I feel most days now that I’m still going through the motions, I’m still trying to figure out where my places.

In this job that I really love. Aye. Just don’t have. I don’t have that. I feel like my foundation was ripped out from underneath my feet. And not just the foundation of. Having my dad as a support system, but also, my significant other I’m. I, like I said, I attribute.

A lot. Of my success in the academy. To him and of those foundations very much were ripped away. And. It’s all up in the air. I have no idea what tomorrow is going to look like. But. That’s okay.

Stack: Yeah, no, it is okay. It has to be okay. And. Because there’s what other option is there.

Jordyn: None. Not for me anyway.

Stack: don’t know. It’s. There’s not really an option for anybody else either. It’s, it has to be okay. And you just have to find the strength to go from day to day. And like you said, roll with the punches.

Jordyn: Pretty much.

Stack: And then I have to assume that. Eventually those punches come less often.

Jordyn: Yeah. I’ve read a lot of articles about grief in the last year or so. And I think the best description that I’ve. Come across. And a lot of people have probably heard this, but that grief doesn’t get. It doesn’t get easier. You just become accustomed to incorporating it as a daily part of your life.


There. There are some days where it is. So a part of my life that it consumes my day. And maybe I just want to be angry or sad that day. And I’m honest about it. People ask, oh, Hey, how are you? And most people’s responses are. Oh yeah, I’m Or oh, yeah, I’m fine. I don’t lie anymore.

Okay. If I’m in a bad mood, I’m.

I’ll say I am angry at the world today because there’s. There’s just not, it’s not in me too.

To. Cordially have that conversation, that, that superficial conversation anymore. And if somebody wants to follow up, then that’s fine. And if they don’t, because it makes them feel uncomfortable, then that’s fine too. But at least I told you the truth. About the type of day that I’m having.


Stack: And there’s some health to that. That’s not a bad option.

Jordyn: It’s part of identifying those emotions and trying to figure out where they’re coming And. It’s keeping other people informed too. Communication is a massive deal to me. And if I can better communicate with the people that I work with or the people that I care about what’s going on with me.

Even if they don’t have anything to say. Or they don’t know what to say. That’s fine. At least I told And at least. Now, your brain can. Work around. What I’ve got going on. In some capacity and maybe. Maybe you can relate to it and maybe you can’t and that’s fine. But yeah I don’t spend a lot of time, any more beating around the feeling’s Bush because it’s so important.

That I continue to stay on top. Of what I’m feeling. For my sanity sake for my mental health sake for my physical health sake. Super important nowadays.

Stack: Yeah, that’s valuable. That’s definitely what I think most people or more people should take into account is if you’re honest with. With those answers. More people will know how to, I don’t Not deal with you, but especially at work and in our I mean, people need to know what’s going on and lead to know where your head is when it’s not in that. Not Right.

I won’t go with right. Maybe. It isn’t in the normal space for you.

Jordyn: Exactly. It’s not your baseline anymore. And we need to know and they deserve to know. And I can understand that there are some, there are people out there who aren’t as fortunate as me in terms of being, or working around people that they feel that they can trust or people that they feel.

Beyond the shadow of a doubt would show up. If they really needed them. And that, that really sucks. I cannot relate to that. But somebody out there should know that you’re not at your baseline because. This is where grief manifests, and this is where it grows. And this is where this is why.

This is why people get stuck. It thrives in isolation and if nobody knows. Then, I don’t even want to think of the potential consequences. For somebody who feels that they are in a situation where they cannot communicate, honestly, with at least one other person. I don’t even want to think about those consequences.

Stack: No, I don’t, I wouldn’t want to consider those either. Yeah. That’s I think it’s valuable advice. Just, Talk.

Jordyn: Yeah. The best as you can.

Stack: That was a, that’s a hell of a conversation. Thank you.

Jordyn: I keep laughing about it. It’s not funny at

Stack: No, that’s a defense mechanism. I laugh. And those moments as well. I get, for me, I guess it would be a defense mechanism, so I understand it that way.

Yeah. That was a fascinating conversation. I appreciate

Jordyn: Me too, more than,

Stack: Let’s let’s let’s do this. Do you have any idea what you would use as an everyday carry or a book right now?

Jordyn: Let me just clarify what you mean. You mean something that I could recommend?

Stack: Yeah. So what I do is the question is based on. And you’ve listened to a couple episodes. I loosely based the title of my podcast on a book by Tim O’Brien and

Jordyn: Okay.

Stack: It was written in.

Mid early eighties, I believe. And it was it’s called the things we did, the things they carried and it’s,

Jordyn: Okay.

Stack: it was a short story-based novel about a platoon in Vietnam. And what he talks about are the things that these guys took into battle. M 16 or. Or the aid bag for the medic or the radio for the radio operator. These things, they carried in the battle. It was a lot to carry into battle, but we all know it’s so much more to carry out of battle.

Those emotional and mental scars. And the things we all carry is based off of that.

We all carry our gear into a fire And do a medical call into whatever. And then we bring those memories.

and those scars out with us. And so that’s where I talk about the things we all carry. But what I like to ask people is something physical. You might carry on your person from day to day that without it, you feel naked.

Jordyn: Oh yeah for me, it’s my, it’s the necklace that I wear. Does that kind of answer what you’re talking

Stack: Yeah.

Jordyn: Yeah. I completely understand now for me it’s the necklace that I wear. That’s the thing that never changes. About my appearance. It has. Great emotional significance. I have two charms on it essentially. And the first charm is the multis cross with St. Florian on it. And it was given.

Bye. My dad to my mom when she graduated from her fire academy in prince George’s county. And it was gifted. To me. Before I graduated from my fire academy and I have been wearing it basically every day. Since I got it. And then the second charm is one that I had made for myself. And it is in. Honor of my significant other. It has the addiction, recovery triangle on it and his initials and his date of death.

So I went without it. I would, I cannot even describe to you the level of devastation.

That would come over me if I did not have it or it was lost. And so I feel like I’m always touching it just to make sure that it’s there, but it’s just a constant. Wearable. Tangible reminder. Of.

Just pain and and grief. And. The fact that. We think we have time here. But we don’t. And. To try. To make. The best of each day, even if that best falls short. Ultimately.

Stack: Yeah. Sometimes making the best of a day is just making it through the day.

Jordyn: Or just waking

You know,

Stack: Right.

Jordyn: That, that. That for me has been my definition of success on more than several occasions. It’s just a good reminder. And it has a lot of a lot of significance I learned last year, actually. And this is another thing that I want to put on this necklace as a third and final charm. I learned that my employee identification number.

It is also the same date that my dad proposed to my mom.

Stack: Oh, how ironic is that?

Jordyn: Whoa. Let me just tell you how. Just my mind was so blown. And so I want to get that in some capacity and kind of put that on here. Cause I’d really love to tie time my mom and to this necklace and, complete the inspiration triangle, if you will. So

Stack: a massive dose of serendipity.

Jordyn: I know it is, but that’s the thing that I will carry from here on out. And I’ll protect it. And. And it just means

Stack: And I know from. Reading through your timeline on Instagram, that you’re quite a reader.

Jordyn: I am.

Stack: So is there a book now or in the past that you’ve consumed and read and you you just want everybody to know about it. Hey, go check this out.

Jordyn: I do. And it’s actually a recommendation that I make in the lecture that I give to our recruits. It’s. I’ve listened to it in audio book form, which is I love audio books. But it’s called. “I Hear You” and it’s by Michael Sorenson.

The audio book. This is also narrated by him and it’s two hours and 45 minutes So it is Literally a two day listen perhaps and “I Hear You” Is a Actionable Informative book About One of the most important Qualities

Of communication and that’s validation

And The book. Really has nothing to do with grief or death or dying or anything like that. But. It. Isn’t exceptional. How to. That. Teaches you. First of all, why? Validation is critical. To our relationships day-to-day relationships. And it teaches you. How you can make small changes.

In your everyday life. To really be there for people who come to you with problems that you cannot fix. And that as a broad topic. I’ve had the opportunity to put these skills. Into practice.

Innumerable amount of times. And I would recommend. On a human level, recommend this book for anybody, literally anybody, not just anybody who’s experiencing X, Y, or Z, but anybody because validation, I am absolutely 100% convinced is a skill that we suck And it is a skill that will save us a lot of trouble. A lot of grief, a lot of awkwardness. It will, it fosters love and respect and appreciation, and it helps eliminate fear and uncertainty. And I cannot sing this books. Praises enough,

Please read this or listen to this book. Because it’s going to change your life.

Stack: I mean with that recommendation.

How can I not read it? So that’s awesome.

Jordyn: Please listen to it. I don’t think you’ll regret it. And the narrator and the author them. Who are the same person? He’s very unpretentious. He doesn’t, it’s not like a, it’s not a book that. You’re going to get halfway through and be like, did I learn anything yet? No that’s not how this is. So it has drastically improved my ability.

To be. Uh, Comfortable with being uncomfortable. On the other side, because I, there are people in my life who have lost significant others and parents and I’m to the point now where. People. Are asking me for advice about their parents. Going like transitioning into hospice. at that point. And so it really gives me.

Yours that listen. And. I like I cannot understate. can’t overstate its value.

Stack: I’m going to. We have when we build a page and all that will be linked in there. So that.

That’s suggesting is perfect.

Jordyn: Cool.

Stack: for this Obviously.

Jordyn: it’s great.

Stack: Look, that conversation was great. I appreciate it. Everything.

I Halfway through.

this, I started thinking maybe this is the episode right here. So I’m going to have to listen to this again and see if that’s the case, because I just liked the. The way we, the way it went, if you can appreciate that.

Jordyn: Yeah.

Stack: So let me take some time and I’m gonna listen to this again. And then if I think that we should record. We’ll record. If not I, there was emotion, there was passion. There was everything in this then, and it was natural for you and I kind I don’t want to say enjoyed it because it’s a topic that nobody enjoys, but it was fascinating.

What I’ll do is I’ll listen to this and I’ll share my thoughts with you about it. And if you’d like to

I’ll send it to you to listen to

as well. And If you’re comfortable.

with it within, we can release it and, or we can record an actual time to sit down together and record, and that would be up to you as well.

Jordyn: Okay.

Stack: All right.

Jordyn: Yeah, that sounds good. Thank you. Thank you for

Stack: No.

I, yeah, you. This was a perfect discussion. And I appreciate

Jordyn: Something good comes of it. And hopefully other people will be able to re relate to it. In some capacity. So I thank you for that opportunity. And. That’s it for me. Alright,

Stack: Thank you very much.

And I guess I’ll say it’s a pleasure meeting you when sometime maybe we’ll meet in the future.

Jordyn: That sounds great.

Stack: Awesome. All right. If you need anything, if you need anything, just reach out and enjoy the rest of your

Jordyn: All right, you do the same.

Stack: All right. Take care.

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