Is it okay to expect advisor(s) to offer a word of condolence?

posted
03-Jul-18, 09:47
edited about 7 seconds later
by Karmah
Avatar for Karmah
posted about 2 months ago
I'm a third-year Ph.D. student. A few months ago, I lost my maternal grandfather and grandmother in quick succession. More recently, I lost my close friend in a bus accident and my paternal grandmother was wheeled into the emergency room. These incidents have affected me personally and I haven't been able to focus on my work as much. I emailed my advisors everytime an incident happened (to take a 2-3 days off) but both of them didn't bother to reply. Even after I met them face to face, they did not ask me how I'm doing or if I need any help?

This has led me to feel that my emotions are not valued and I'm being used just as a tool to get experiments done. Am I wrong to expect a word of condolence from my advisors or do they think that they might cross personal boundaries?
posted
03-Jul-18, 10:07
edited about 6 seconds later
by tru
Avatar for tru
posted about 2 months ago
Hi, Karmah,

I am so sorry for your loss. Do get some free counselling at uni if you need it... Time will heal you...

The question you could ask is: Is the person a human?
If answer is yes, then yes, we should expect a word of condolence.
If answer is no, then no, no such expectation....
posted
03-Jul-18, 10:52
edited about 3 seconds later
Avatar for kenziebob
posted about 2 months ago
Hi Karma,

Very sorry to hear about your loss. Just one point - do you think that maybe your supervisors simply didn't know what to say? It can be very hard to talk to someone whom you know is going through such a difficult time, and it could be that they just didn't know what to say to you.

I would have expected a reply too, but still, just something to consider :)
posted
03-Jul-18, 11:05
by rewt
Avatar for rewt
posted about 2 months ago
Hi karmah,

Again, sorry to hear about your loss. The last few months must have been hard. Though academics can be socially useless and sometimes don't know what to say. By not saying anything they might be trying to avoid there own social awkwardness. Are they saying negative? Like making comments about being away? If they are just ignoring it and trying to give you some space/privacy.

However, they should at least ask how you are doing.
posted
03-Jul-18, 11:18
edited about 6 seconds later
by Bloop
Avatar for Bloop
posted about 2 months ago
Hi Karmah, sorry for your losses.

I agree with rewt. They may be socially awkward. I know many like this in my own university.

However, social etiquette calls for at least asking how you are. So you are right in expecting condolences. However, supervisor-student relationships are largely very formal and they might not want to overstep any type of boundary. I think you should not pay much attention to them, under the assumption they mean no ill-will.
posted
03-Jul-18, 14:12
edited about 22 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 months ago
You're not expecting too much. Seriously. Most job specs these days say something about the ability to engage in interpersonal relationships in the workplace. And I'd say a simple "how are you bearing up" from your supervisors isn't too much to ask at a time like this.

You know how you would treat someone else in such a situation, and when someone doesn't meet that expectation it's easy to feel pretty negative. One way to move on from these feelings you're now having might be to see it as their problem (social awkwardness, self-centredness, low emotional intelligence, or whatever it may arise from) and not yours.

Hope the responses here have helped.
posted
03-Jul-18, 17:35
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 2 months ago
I would say lower your exceptions. People don't have to say anything to you about this, even your supervisors (although since it may affect your performance, they should), and you can't change this. Instead, ask yourself why you need this from them?

Moral of the story is you can't change other people's behaviour, you can only change your response to it.
posted
03-Jul-18, 18:40
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 months ago
Quote From TreeofLife:


Moral of the story is you can't change other people's behaviour, you can only change your response to it.


I agree with this. But that doesn't mean that one has to lower their expectations about what they think is appropriate for a given situation.
posted
04-Jul-18, 00:05
edited about 27 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 months ago
On a second reading, I think I was misinterpreting what you'd put ToL... I get you now... don't expect it of them, and then it won't be able to bother you... (as opposed to my earlier interpretation!)
posted
04-Jul-18, 11:48
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 2 months ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
On a second reading, I think I was misinterpreting what you'd put ToL... I get you now... don't expect it of them, and then it won't be able to bother you... (as opposed to my earlier interpretation!)


Yeah that was what I was trying to get at :)
posted
06-Jul-18, 20:01
edited about 6 minutes later
by Pursue
Avatar for Pursue
posted about 2 months ago
Very sorry about your loss.

When I lost my Dad during Masters study, my Supervisor sent an email to check if I was back from home, and asked how I was?

By the time we met, he began from the email, which was easier for both of us. He didn't say much about the loss, gauging I could cry, but the general response I got was warmth, kindness, understanding.

Even if someone decides to keep quiet about your loss, but at least their actions, should be an assurance that they care what you are going through. A simple reply to your emails could have been a good gesture.

At PhD level, a Supervisor - Student relationship is more than just a dissertation. They are your first support structure. Yes you are right to expect at least some sympathy.

But because they proved to be from another planet than yours.....keep going, find other people that understand what you are going through, talk about your pain if need be, like you have done here, so it doesn't bottle up. Don't keep to yourself. It is well!
posted
07-Jul-18, 00:04
edited about 1 second later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 months ago
The word "expect" is the key here. Personally I don't think it is healthy to expect anything from anyone.
I don't think anyone is obliged to care about another person.
Of course, a normal functioning human being will ask you how you are doing or make some reference to you being back at work.
I have to say though that there are plenty of people who hate getting anything resembling sympathy.
When something like this happened to me I simply wanted no fuss whatsoever and to get back to work.
People didn't know that so should they say something to me or not?

Everyone is different and so as I said, it isn't healthy to expect anything. It's a little unfair on them actually.
Just my thoughts.
posted
09-Jul-18, 15:37
edited a moment later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 2 months ago
Quote From pm133:
The word "expect" is the key here. Personally I don't think it is healthy to expect anything from anyone.
I don't think anyone is obliged to care about another person.
Of course, a normal functioning human being will ask you how you are doing or make some reference to you being back at work.
I have to say though that there are plenty of people who hate getting anything resembling sympathy.
When something like this happened to me I simply wanted no fuss whatsoever and to get back to work.
People didn't know that so should they say something to me or not?

Everyone is different and so as I said, it isn't healthy to expect anything. It's a little unfair on them actually.
Just my thoughts.


I 100% agree with this.
posted
14-Jul-18, 09:08
Avatar for herpesblitzpr
posted about 2 months ago
Quote From Pursue:
Very sorry about your loss.

When I lost my Dad during Masters study, my Supervisor sent an email to check if I was back from home, and asked how I was?

By the time we met, he began from the email, which was easier for both of us. He didn't say much about the loss, gauging I could cry, but the general response I got was warmth, kindness, understanding.

Even if someone decides to keep quiet about your loss, but at least their actions, should be an assurance that they care what you are going through. A simple reply to your emails could have been a good gesture.

At PhD level, a Supervisor - Student relationship is more than just a dissertation. They are your first support structure. Yes you are right to expect at least some sympathy.

But because they proved to be from another planet than yours.....keep going, find other people that understand what you are going through, talk about your pain if need be, like you have done here, so it doesn't bottle up. Don't keep to yourself. It is well!

eXACTLY

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