Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Bravest Person I Know

I was talking to my mother today (a.k.a. The World's Greatest Mom - really).  As you may recall, my dad died just over a year ago.  Before he became too ill to go out in public, he and TWGM went out a lot.  They loved the opera, theater, travel, museums, jazz, symphony, parties, going out to dinner.  Then dad became too ill, and they went nowhere.  After dad died, TWGM took a year to grieve and to regain her balance.  Then, she decided she was ready to start going out again.  But wait.  She didn't want to go out alone.  She didn't want always to be the fifth wheel with another couple.  What was TWGM to do?  She thought about it.  She talked about it.  She mentioned it to her friends.  All of them, all of those people that were there when dad was sick and she just needed to talk.  You know what happened?  One by one, her friends said they would love to do one of the things she suggested.  Now, she is going with one friend to the opera, with another to the theater, with a third to the movies.  She has a full social schedule.  You know what each of those friends told her?  To a person they told her how glad they were to find someone to do those activities with them.  They just didn't think to ask.

TWGM story reminds me of the Trenches in two different ways.  First, I think of my colleagues here in the Trenches.  So many of us work in solo practices or small firms.  We buy into the myth that lawyers are supposed to know everything.  When we have problems with cases, we think we should be able to solve them without anyone else's help.  Then, one day, we ask someone's advice.  They're happy to give it.  Next time they have a problem, they ask us or someone else for help.  Everyone's clients benefit because one of us was brave enough to ask for help.

Second, I think of my clients. Their lives have changed irrevocably.  They are no longer part of a couple.  They used to have someone at home who would go with them to the movies or out to dinner.  Or maybe not.  Now they have no one.  It's a really lonely place to be. Most folks have already shared so much with all their friends - how horrible a marriage they had, how terribly the divorce is going, all the details while they were grieving the end of their marriage.  That sharing is a necessary part of grief.  But grief has to end and life has to begin again.  It's a rebuilding of a whole new relationship with the client in a new role as a single person and not part of a couple.  What better way than with the old friends in new roles, doing new things.  Maybe even turning that odd acquaintance into a new friend.  All you have to do is share - and ask.  Here in the Trenches.

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