Sarah’s Day

I thought for a while about how I would deliver the good news to Sarah.  Do I express my enthusiasm, or remain guarded while allowing her to have her reaction?  The fact that I don’t have the judgment in writing and actually don’t know the terms of the judgment keeps nagging at me.  Then again, it was Sarah’s day, and I wanted her to have it.

Presently, Sarah has good days where she feels she is able to move about less than half of the day (yes, this is a good day), and I wanted to give her something that would make it a good day.  That would allow her to get lost in thought and excitement to the extent that she was able to forget about her physical pain, if only for a short while.  So, I settled on showing my excitement and feeding into hers, while making it abundantly clear that we don’t yet know the specific details of the judgment.  I hoped that this would be a best of both worlds strategy that would allow me to share this moment with Sarah.

So, I dialed.  Sarah picked up and whispered that she was in the library.  I suggested that she go outside and sit down.  I heard her breathing heavily as she left the library in search of a comfortable place to sit.  Once the breathing slowed, I told her.  In my mind’s eye, I could see her clutching at her chest as she let out a gush of air, a sigh that released ten years of pain and sadness.  For once, it was her moment.

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2 thoughts on “Sarah’s Day

  1. You describe what is frequently a challenge for me when I have good or bad news to share with a client. How much professional detachment do I employ? After a career in legal services work (>20 years) I am left to conclude that my world is so different than the world of my clients I will never know the formula. So I take my best guess, based on my knowledge of the client and my own emotional inclination. Sometimes I guess right. Sometimes I guess wrong.

  2. Thank you for the comment Attorney McGiffin. I’m so happy to have encapsulated a sentiment many attorneys feel in such a situation. The whole concept of professional detachment is fascinating to me. I’m glad to hear that you never resolved yourself to putting up a wall; I’m sure that it can be very tempting. I’ve already wrestled with that temptation… it would make that part of the job much easier. It would also make me a poor counselor. I like the approach that you’ve settled on and it is refreshing to know that there may not be standard answer to my quandary.

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