Alright, I'm working on catching up on Kitchen Table responses :-) This one comes from: http://wifebehindthefire.com/talking-calls/
When I met my FF, he'd been firefighting in some form (junior, volunteer, career) for 16 or so years. He definitely compartmentalizes things in life. At the same time, once he made sure i could handle hearing about calls, he tells me about a good deal of them. There are PLENTY of run-of-the-mill-dude-wants-a-taxi-ride calls, but he still talks to me about the ridiculous ones. He talks to me about the calls where the victim was in pieces, and the calls where they save someone's life. Early on, I asked him how the department handles traumatic calls. They debrief, talk to the department therapist-type, things like that.
I asked him more recently, how he handles various calls. He confided that the hardest calls for him are not the ones where the victim is dead and in pieces, but rather the ones that the patient dies on them while being worked, or the patient wishes they were dead, due to extreme traumas. He said he figured out a while ago that he can't help the dead, only the living.
If he didn't talk to me about calls, I'd worry. I phrase questions carefully, such as, "any interesting calls lately?" or sometimes I'll ask if they've heard from any of their frequent fliers lately. When we first met the only way i could get him to talk was to ask questions about work. So, he's used to me asking lots of (often dumb or silly) questions. Now, with the help of my fire sisters, I have lots of springboards to start with and ask him if he's dealt with similar stuff. Sometimes I'll tell him what's been posted, and ask if he has advice from his side of the fence.
I honestly don't worry about him bottling stuff up, because we have some pretty darn open communication going on. His skill for compartmentalizing is a huge help, as well. He doesn't do it as a way to avoid dealing with stuff, more as a way to keep it from eating at him, or dwelling on the bad stuff. I'd definitely worry if he suddenly started refusing to tell me stuff. I mean, I never ask for stuff that would be HIPAA violations, of course, just for him to talk to me about stuff. Talking soothes the soul, in my book.