Posts Tagged ‘Grief’

What happens when someone is told that there is no legal remedy to their problem? What about losing a court case and even worse, losing on appeal? So much effort gone into hoping that the problem can be resolved only to find, like in a disease, there is no cure. So what is the person left with? Grief.

Very recently I started working as a paralegal in a law office. As I walked through the waiting area, I noticed how clients had the same looks on their faces that I’ve seen in doctors and hospital waiting rooms. Sitting there, they are hoping that the person down the hall can provide them with a legal solution to their “sickness”. Usually, one goes to an attorney to resolve a problem that has greatly impacted them. Except for the drafting of contracts or Wills, most of these cases have upended a person’s life: Threats of eviction, contesting a Will, declaring a relative incompetent, or needing to sue someone for pain and suffering inflicted. Really not a happy place to be!

I’ve seen this personally with a neighbor who had her dog attacked and killed by another dog. She was devastated. She was angry. She didn’t just want money to replace the dog, she wanted something for her pain and suffering, for her loss. Her grief was deep, she had lost not just a pet but a comfort animal. I advised her to engage a lawyer and see what the law could do for her. Unfortunately, she discovered that all she could sue for was for the replacement value of the animal. And that would entail costly legal fees she couldn’t afford. Her grief now doubled because the closure she thought she could find had vaporized.

So what can be done to help a person who is now in this state of “legal grief”? If the person’s attorney is a caring individual, maybe a session talking with he/she could be a form of therapy. However, attorneys are not trained in that way of relating to clients. Should the person seek a therapist for help? Are there any therapists who could understand this unique form of grief and know how to work the person through it? Legal grief might have all the same stages as regular grief but how would a therapist relate to the retelling of all the legal convolutions that led to the grief? Standard concepts of grief usually cover loss of people, jobs, body parts, etc. Other types of losses are out of the realm to be considered as something to grieve. Recall how people used to be brushed aside when they talked about the grief of losing their physical home. Then came 9/11 and the Twin Towers fell and the whole world realized you can grieve for the loss of a building! Indeed, the book of grief has many different chapters.

If anyone reading this has experienced this kind of grief, or encountered a therapist who understands it, I’d appreciate a reply to this post.

One of our shining attributes, as human beings, is our ability to give words to our joys and our sorrows. Think of all the great literature that revolves around a loved one’s death. There are too numerous to count, poems written from the human soul crying out its horrendous loss to the world. But have you ever had to meet death head on in the sudden loss of a loved one? As I sit here and write this it is only days after 17 more innocent individuals’ lives where snuffed out in an instant.

Sudden loss, whether in a tragedy such as the Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school shooting, or in the massive heart attack that took the husband you thought was stronger than nails, shocks one to the core. You stand there, the proverbial wind knocked out of your sails. Time stands still, things fall from your hands, and all you want to do is give out a primal scream. You want to scream so loud and so long until the world around you shatters just as you did. Instead, you swallow that scream whole, put one foot in front of the other, and walk through the next hours and days like a zombie. Life, as you know it, is on hold. Mute, you go through the motion of your tasks, words no longer have meaning.

On Valentine’s Day we are conditioned to speak to our loved ones words of affection, words of joy. Thousands of words, written on thousands of cards tell the world our positive feelings. But now, after this horrible tragedy that occurred on that day of joyous words, we are tossed into the desert of silence. Ironically, this year that day was also Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. A season in the Christian religion that leads up to death, suffering, and yet hope through the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was the “Word made flesh” and as he died on the cross, he let out a wordless cry just before his life ended. It was a scream to his Father as he went into the abyss of death’s darkness.

When sadness and grief overcome us and words fail us, let us turn to the pure emotion of remembering our loved ones. As time passes and words return to our lips, let us keep their memory alive by recounting who they were, what they stood for, the good they brought to our lives. And never forget the power of prayer, for even wordless grief can be a prayer sent up to God, however you conceive him/her to be.