Last week I had to put my little dog, companion of 14+ years down and as I reflect on the years, I have to thank him for the lessons of love, grief & loss.
Over the years, I have dealt with loss, death in grief with a number of hats. In clinical practice, I interacted with patients and family members who had medical conditions acute and chronic that caused death. As a priest, I have given last rights to folks on their death bed, ministered to them as they traveled the final road of life, and officiated at their funerals.
As a personal injury lawyer I have met with, consoled, and advocated for family members and friends of people who have died because of somebody else's negligence whether it be a car accident, truck accident, boating accident or medical malpractice. The hurdle in pursing any wrongful death case is “quantifying” a survivor's loss of love and companionship. Why? Because love and companionship is uniquely personal thing. In wrongful death and medical malpractice cases involving death, we typically hear from jurors, insurance adjusters and defense attorneys that MONEY WILL NOT BRING THE LOVED ONE BACK. This is one of the concerns we always have when bringing these types of cases to trial. You see, we have all suffered some type of loss in our lives – but every person is an individual and the impact of that loss is so individual. To put this in perspective, please let me share my recent personal experience.
I am no stranger to death, loss and grief because I have dealt with it throughout my adult life on a professional level. In my personal life, I am lucky in that my parents, child, and spouse are still around. I lost 3 grandparents who were very instrumental in my life as an adult. I was close to my grandparents throughout my childhood, but then I went away to college, lived in different states, got married, and had a child we drifted apart. So, in the last 10 to 15 years of my grandparents' lives it was a weekly phone call and a visit once or twice a year. Their death impacted me. I loved them and felt loss and grief, but I was not as connected to them because of time, distance and life.
In reflecting on Mugzie's life and death, by far, he was the closest living thing that I have lost in my almost 50 years of life. The feeling of loss and grief that I am experience is greater than any other loss that I have personally experienced in my life. I mean no disrespect to my grandparents. They were an integral part of my childhood and showed me great love and affection.
On Thursday night, just before the vet showed up at the house to put Mugzie down, my buddy of 31 years sent me a text that said it all, “Mugs will teach you one more thing… How to let go with love… You will need that in the future.” He was right.
Now this week, when I have to meet with a family and tell them that the insurance company is tendering their policy limits and that is all the money available to compensate them for the death of their son and father, I will have a deeper understanding, not necessarily knowing, each of the survivors' loss.
Thank you Mugzie for the life lessons that you taught me the last 14+ years. Because of you, I will be a more compassionate and empathetic: