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Empathy | An Attorney's Rite of Passage

Empathy | An Attorney's Rite of PassageIt's June 1992. I lay prone on a hospital bed. I have a few dozen staples above my forehead that span ear to ear. They hold together my skull following a craniotomy to remove a brain tumor.

It is our 20th Anniversary. While we won't be celebrating at a local restaurant tonight Lisa and I are celebrating - I'm alive. I'm a husband. I'm a father, and we have our lives ahead of us.

The next day I get great news. I'm free to walk down the hospital corridor with my intravenous cart in tow. I get up, hold onto the cart, and venture left from my hospital room. I feel alive - elated in fact - thankful and graced. I pass by the neighboring hospital room - a woman, about 50, a visitor to the adjoining room's patient looks out the door and sees me. "Oh gross," she exclaims - probably involuntarily.

So do these words wound? No. I feel empathy for her. I see a woman who has not yet been wounded by illness - a particular aspect of all of our lives. Lacking those wounds, she doesn't appreciate the sheer joy of life - of hope - and the love that often enfolds us from those who are dear to us - a grace given to those known to be facing great life challenges.

This experience brought me appreciation for the troubles that others face. It also brought me an awareness that the happiness that we have for challenges met might be looked upon by others as misplaced and irrational.

Our law firm represents people who are often challenged by grief. It is easy at times to simply ignore our client's emotional stress and focus on their legal rights. This is a mistake. I'll often remind myself of my hospital hallway encounter and the need for comfort in time of distress. We don't do this perfectly, but we try and try again.

For those touched by grief and challenged by an estate or elder financial abuse challenge, we want to listen. After listening, we can talk about how we might be able to help you. We can be reached at 916 313-3030.

Empathy | An Attorney's Rite of Passage from Hackard Law on Vimeo.

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