In my closing arguments at trial, I am usually grappling with how to best express the mental anguish that my client has suffered. Some think that this type of damage is a creation of trial lawyers. However, I recently saw a book that describes the importance of solace to a family.
"Making Rounds With Oscar" is a book about a cat who provides comfort to families, as well as nursing home residents. Oscar lives in a Rhode Island nursing home and apparently has a sixth sense about when a resident is near death. As a result, this cat sits vigil until the end.
Dr David Dosa published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine which has now become a book. It describes Oscar who has lived his entire life on the 41 bed advanced dementia unit. The staff noticed that Oscar was making visits to residents on the third floor, shortly before his first birthday.
Oscar’s appearances coincided with the deaths of terminal patients who were on the third floor. The passing of residents on the third floor was not unexpected, due to the advanced condition of residents on the floor; however, Oscar’s visits proved to coincide with a resident’s final hours. Except for these visits, Oscar was nowhere to be found.
According to the book, In time, the staff, at the nursing home, began to rely on Oscar as an “early warning system”, announcing to those present that it was time to notify family and increase hospice services for those where Oscar was sitting vigil. For his service to the patients, a local Hospice organization even awarded Oscar with their annual “Hospice Champion” award.
Mental anguish is an element of damage in accident cases that usually transcends the damage of the medical bills or some outside scarring. The inside scarring may not be seen and may go untreated, while other injuries are so prevalent. In this book, modern medicine even recognizes God's creation as a source of comfort, even if that comfort comes in the form of Oscar the cat.