Author Topic: How do you sympathize? Do you?  (Read 6658 times)

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GSNW

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How do you sympathize? Do you?
« on: April 08, 2014, 11:33:36 AM »
I have a co-worker (Laurie, I think I have mentioned her previously) that is very, very affected by celebrity deaths.

She was hysterical and basically inconsolable (but refused to go home) the day Heath Ledger died.  She sad in the nurse's office and cried (others covered her classes).

When Patrick Swayze died, she was posting 4-5x daily on Facebook for a month about it (I have since hidden her from my news feed). 

Cory Monteith and Paul Walker?  Good lord, I'm just glad neither of those deaths happened on a school day.  She was still all sniffly after Thanksgiving break, but at least Monteith happened over the summer.

Today she is in mourning over the anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death.  Black with a Nirvana t-shirt, mournful looks, playing Nirvana while her kids work. 

I am a bit cynical about all of this.  I have ignored it and would like to continue to do so.  But am I being insensitive?  I'm not close friends with Laurie, but we are friendly and sometimes see each other outside of work. 

I've seen another co-worker say, "I'm sorry you are sad today," and this unleashed a 10-minute lecture on how important the person was for whatever reason.  If she corners me or wants to tell me about her sadness, how do I politely sidestep, or am I obligated to listen?  I know people feel what they feel, and I know I'm being fairly judgy about this. 

MrTango

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Re: How do you sympathize? Do you?
« Reply #1 on: April 08, 2014, 11:37:11 AM »
I wouldn't show any sign of sympathy or interest.  Doing so will only cause her to start gushing at you.

If she corners you, I think it's okay to say "Yes, I'm aware of [event/anniversary].  Excuse me, I need to [make up an excuse to leave or be busy]."

TootsNYC

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Re: How do you sympathize? Do you?
« Reply #2 on: April 08, 2014, 11:38:51 AM »
I'd be pretty judgy too. I mean, sure, people's feelings are there, they're real, but that doesn't mean they're always appropriate.

That said, of course neither you nor I would express all that judgy feeling. But I don't think we're obligated to listen. I think it's perfectly fine to let our disinterest in her emotions show all over the place. That's one way people learn what's appropriate.

I wouldn't even want to say "I'm sorry you're sad." I'd be all "Oh, yeah? it's the anniversary? Hmm." and leave.
   I'd be all absent-minded and look at my phone while she's talking (or do schoolwork, or whatever), and maybe even say, "I'm sorry, I need to focus on this."

If I got the big lecture, I'd want to say, "Well, I'm not that personally invested in the death of someone I haven't ever met. I'm sure it's sad for his family, but I never knew him." And leave.

If she ever had a conversation about something else, I'd try to perk up and suddenly be very interested in her. She switches back to the "grieving fangirl" role, and I'd drop back to apathy.


TaurusGirl

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Re: How do you sympathize? Do you?
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2014, 11:40:04 AM »
My mother is like this. While I do mourn the passing of celebrities, for me it's more of a "wow, that's sad. I'll miss his/her work". Then I move on. What I've found works with my mother is to acknowledge her pain, like "I didn't realise you were such a big Nirvana fan", and then bean dip.

TurtleDove

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Re: How do you sympathize? Do you?
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2014, 11:42:01 AM »
I would avoid this person in general, but if I couldn't I would take the route your other coworker did and say, "I am sorry you are sad," while going about my day.  I would not feel obligated to listen to her at all, and if she persisted I would say, "I am sorry you are sad - since this is affecting you so deeply why don't you take a personal day (again...and again....)." 

Rather than argue with her about whether she should be so affected by the deaths of people she didn't know, focus on what cannot be argued - that her internal struggles are affecting her work so she should probably take some personal time to deal with what is troubling her.

I think grief affects different people differently, and that is okay.  But I think it is wrong to habitually let your (general) grief to affect the lives of those around you.  If the coworker is genuinely depressed and upset about these deaths, I think it is on her to get help, not expect other people to sympathize with her ad nauseum. 

Outdoor Girl

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Re: How do you sympathize? Do you?
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2014, 11:54:04 AM »
I would avoid this person in general, but if I couldn't I would take the route your other coworker did and say, "I am sorry you are sad," while going about my day.  I would not feel obligated to listen to her at all, and if she persisted I would say, "I am sorry you are sad - since this is affecting you so deeply why don't you take a personal day (again...and again....)." 

Rather than argue with her about whether she should be so affected by the deaths of people she didn't know, focus on what cannot be argued - that her internal struggles are affecting her work so she should probably take some personal time to deal with what is troubling her.

I think grief affects different people differently, and that is okay.  But I think it is wrong to habitually let your (general) grief to affect the lives of those around you.  If the coworker is genuinely depressed and upset about these deaths, I think it is on her to get help, not expect other people to sympathize with her ad nauseum.

I agree.

Bit of a drama queen, isn't she?  I would do my level best NOT to feed her drama.  A drive-by, 'Sorry you're sad' at the most.  I wouldn't engage her at all.  I don't get all that emotionally invested in people I don't know personally.  A 'famous' person may get an, 'Oh, how sad/tragic' but that's about it.  Someone I know dies and I might be a wreck but I'll take some personal time to deal with it.

Other than large scale events like the Challenger disaster and 9/11, the only 'famous' deaths I can think of that affected me were Princess Diana and Mother Theresa, partly because they passed so close together.
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lowspark

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Re: How do you sympathize? Do you?
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2014, 12:00:21 PM »
I think it goes beyond just whether you sympathize with her. This habit is affecting her work.

Quote
She sad in the nurse's office and cried (others covered her classes).

Others had to cover her classes because she was upset about the passing of someone she doesn't know personally? And her work is affected every time a celebrity dies? I mean, yeah, if it were a relative or close friend, absolutely, I'd sympathize and help out if she was incapacitated with grief. For Patrick Swayze or Heath Ledger? No way I'd agree to cover her class unless I was going to get comp time for it.

Your bosses are ok with her apparent inability to do her job for (what I would consider) frivolous reasons?

How did she take it yesterday when Mickey Rooney died?

Piratelvr1121

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Re: How do you sympathize? Do you?
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2014, 12:03:19 PM »
I would avoid this person in general, but if I couldn't I would take the route your other coworker did and say, "I am sorry you are sad," while going about my day.  I would not feel obligated to listen to her at all, and if she persisted I would say, "I am sorry you are sad - since this is affecting you so deeply why don't you take a personal day (again...and again....)." 

Rather than argue with her about whether she should be so affected by the deaths of people she didn't know, focus on what cannot be argued - that her internal struggles are affecting her work so she should probably take some personal time to deal with what is troubling her.

I think grief affects different people differently, and that is okay.  But I think it is wrong to habitually let your (general) grief to affect the lives of those around you.  If the coworker is genuinely depressed and upset about these deaths, I think it is on her to get help, not expect other people to sympathize with her ad nauseum.

I have to agree.  I mean, okay yes some of us do have our favorite actors who we will miss greatly when they're gone. I was sad to hear of Patrick Swayze's passing and Heath Ledger's, and when Maggie Smith leaves this world I will definitely feel like we've lost a great talent, same with Johnny Depp.

But I don't think it's normal to be as upset about it as this woman is getting and in all truth I'd wonder if she is using it as an excuse to get out of work.
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POF

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Re: How do you sympathize? Do you?
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2014, 12:14:31 PM »
Sorry , but I see this as a play for attention. I guess it just doesn't belong at work. 

I had a senior analyst who I really like - but can be a bit of a dramam queen, ( she doesn't quite realize it and a lot of it comes from her background ).  Her mother was diagnosed with a form of cancer that is treatable, usually a chronic type condition with very high survivor rates.  Sure its horrible and sad ... but as far as cancer - a hopefult outcome.

She would just burst into tears at work frequently and would do it during meetings with higher ups.  I finally told her to sign up for FMLA and stay home until she could handle a professional enviroment. I empathized with her - but told her it was impacting the office.  She actually shaped up - she needed to hear it though. 

I would not empathize at all - but keep things professional

Mikayla

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Re: How do you sympathize? Do you?
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2014, 12:20:56 PM »
I don't think people are wrong for reacting strongly to celebrity deaths (or anything else, for that matter).

However, that's about feelings.  When they go public with it, and/or force others to become part of it, it's not grief anymore.  It's making it "all about me".

I wouldn't even tell her I'm sorry she's sad.   But that's because I wouldn't be allowed to say the second half of that, which is "I'm even sorrier you want my attention".

JenJay

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Re: How do you sympathize? Do you?
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2014, 12:26:07 PM »
I wouldn't show any sign of sympathy or interest.  Doing so will only cause her to start gushing at you.

If she corners you, I think it's okay to say "Yes, I'm aware of [event/anniversary].  Excuse me, I need to [make up an excuse to leave or be busy]."

I agree. I wouldn't be rude to her, but I wouldn't want to say or do anything that would give her an opening to lose it all over me.

One Fish, Two Fish

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Re: How do you sympathize? Do you?
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2014, 12:53:53 PM »
A part of me would want to say, "I'm so sorry.  Were the two of you very close?"
Just ignore the behavior, and refuse to get sucked into it.  There is nothing wrong with politely excusing yourself to go to the bathroom/break room/etc. 

BTW-How old are her students?  I'm wondering how appropriate listening to Nirvana in a classroom setting is.
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veronaz

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Re: How do you sympathize? Do you?
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2014, 01:49:41 PM »
Quote
She was hysterical and basically inconsolable (but refused to go home) the day Heath Ledger died.  She sad in the nurse's office and cried (others covered her classes).

 ::) This is just nuts.  I'm surprised it was tolerated.

Grieving Fangirl loves the attention.  I'd refuse to give it to her.  Ignore.

Also possible she uses celebrity deaths to get out of doing work.

GSNW

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Re: How do you sympathize? Do you?
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2014, 03:00:09 PM »
OK, I'm glad my take on the issue doesn't paint me as a heartless woman.  To answer some questions:

No mention of Mickey Rooney. 

She teaches 7th grade, so yeah, there are some Nirvana songs that are fine and some that are not.  Most of us have "kid friendly" playlists on our iTunes for times when music on.

Admin, I think, was at a loss for the Heath Ledger day.  I don't know if she was ever spoken to or what.  When we cover classes, though, we do get a prep buy (basically our hourly rate for one hour) and she would have had to take a sick day (slightly OT, but I HATE covering on my prep.  I hate it and I say no whenever I think I can get away with it).

I am going to avoid the situation as much as possible.

PennyandPleased

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Re: How do you sympathize? Do you?
« Reply #14 on: April 08, 2014, 03:04:00 PM »
I agree with PPs - ignore and bean dip. Personally I would act oblivious when she's all weepy over the death of these celebrities. Pretend you don't notice it at all and keep conversations about work only. You don't want to get sucked into this in any way, shape, or how. Plus if her work suffers, you don't want any association with that either.

I'm not making excuses for her, because this is ridiculous, but does she have any family/friends? I only ask because perhaps she has no one in her life and she latches onto these random celebrities and thinks they have a real, emotional connection?

With twitter, instagram, and other social media I've heard stories about how people think they are so 'connected' to celebrities and public figures that they think that it's only a matter of time till that celebrity notices them and is going to come find them and ask to be their boyfriend/girlfriend.

Maybe this is something like that?

Again NOT making excuses for her, I think this is all beyond nutty, but I kind of want to know how someone can be like this!