Increasing Empathy

Special article brought to you by IntergraLAW

Attorney Garrett T. Smith


We have all experienced unexpected life events. Sometimes, we expect the loss of aging loved ones, yet we are unprepared for the emotions that follow. My family has recently experienced an unexpected loss. While there is a level of peace of mind to be gained by having legal documents in order, these documents should not give a false sense of preparedness when it comes to the emotional impacts of loss.

I often joke that people rarely call an attorney when life is going well. Usually, there is a dispute or potential dispute that needs to be resolved or curtailed. As such, much of my time is spent listening to my client’s problems, identifying legal remedies, and then assisting in obtaining solutions. I feel that my level of empathy has increased as I have listened to various problems over the years. My clients have appreciated my empathy as I have counseled them through frustrations and loss.

Thankfully, I have recently been on the receiving end of empathy. The close family and friends that have listened to me have shown empathy and assisted me in finding the true source of healing. There is no technical degree required, no specialized training, no certification necessary to show empathy. Life experience is helpful to relate more deeply, yet not required. A genuine desire to help combined with willing ears can go a long way in exhibiting true empathy.

I know this is not the message to expect in a legal article, but we live in increasingly unexpected times. I feel nearly certain that every individual, family, community, etc. has experienced loss, in varying degrees, in the last couple months. Maybe it is the loss of a loved one, a job, a steady income, educational interaction, a graduation experience, individual freedom, social interaction, and the list goes on. I hope that we have also gained an ability to empathize with others. As loss continues, we can choose to listen willingly and express genuine desire to help others.

I am always happy to help create documents to prepare for and assist families through loss of life. When creating a comprehensive estate plan, I discuss what will happen when a person passes away. Death is the book-end of physical life and is something that should be prepared for legally. Doing so effectively can save money, limit disagreement, and provide peace of mind. As mentioned above, death is something that should be prepared for emotionally as well. Properly prepared and executed legal documents can assist in relieving some of the emotional pressure of loss by allowing descendants to grieve with less financial and legal stress.

I hope we can choose to increase our empathy for those facing both expected and unexpected loss. Please do not hesitate to reach out if I can be of assistance!

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