Proving Mental Anguish - A primer through comedy and example
This comic cracked me up...anyone have an in on an expert that can identify the sorrow lobe?
In all reality though, this is a legitimate question. How does one prove the sorrow. Simply put, you have to tell your client's story. You have to look into yourself and those things that you've felt when someone passed, when you weren't able to do something you really wanted to. You have to look to yourself before you were an attorney.
I remember sorrow from when a friend was unexpectedly taken from me. I received a phone call from my friend, Tamarind. I was sitting in a classroom where I volunteered in my off time. I was inputting grades into the old Mac computer just to the right of the teacher's desk. I picked up my cell phone, excited because it was her (and I had a pretty big crush on her at the time). She told me Mike had been shot. I immediately felt cold. I felt a tightening in my stomach. I felt a numbness in my arms, in my face. My gaze turned into a thousand yard stare as I tried to imagine what may have happened, thousand of thoughts running through my head. Was it suicide, was it a robbery, was it an accident, was it something nefarious. None of the thousands of thoughts were good.
I turned to the teacher, Phil Lehwalder, and stammered..."Phil...friend was...shot...I...I need to leave." He couldn't really hear what I said, but caught that it was something where a friend was in trouble. I ran out of the room, ran to my car. I drove in a haze, well beyond the speed limit to get to the theater. I don't remember the drive.
I get there and they, friends, one friend, Jim, the manager, he points me towards the AOL building. There's an empty floor, the security guard will lead me up. The other friends at the theater are there. He won't tell me what happened. I get up there and Sonja tells me that Mike was killed.There is lots of crying, but myself and my best friend Rob, who were both planning to become cops at that point, realize other people needed us to be strong and thus we became shoulders. The entire time, we have the same thoughts as anyone else. We learn that one of the assistant managers, Kevin, found him at the bottom of the stairs. We learned that it was a robbery. We all picture in vivid detail how it may have gone down.
We relive it for 8 hours as we all speculate. We all imagine. We all grieve. Together.
And then I go home.
I should say, that I wasn't staying at my place at the time. I was housesitting for a family friend. I go to work to tell them I won't be there. I buy a cd. I go back and feed the dog, not wanting to shirk a responsibility although I feel like nothing else really matters.
I get back to the house and I put on the cd, by a band, For Squirrels. One of the songs is about Kurt Cobain, which sounds cheesy, but the singer who wrote the song also died in a van accident. He's singing from beyond the grave.
Then it happens. I break. During the chorus, I start sobbing. I don't remember much of the night. I don't remember when I fell asleep. All I remember is sobbing uncontrollably, to the point of hyperventilating, for hours.
So how does one prove mental anguish? Use yourself to figure our what matters to your client. It may not be a death, but there are important things to everyone. It could be time with family, it could be a hobby that they have devoted their life to, it could be the joy of getting on the floor and playing with their granddaughter. Everyone has their mental anguish, and the jury will understand it if it is your clients truth. Your job is to identify the sorrow lobe, as it were.