DEAR HARRIETTE: I went through a very tough personal loss a few months ago and took bereavement leave from work for two weeks.
My boss and supervisors were wonderful and understanding, but my co-workers did not seem to understand at all.
I came back, and most of my co-workers seemed to be upset with me for being gone. It’s really like they resent me for leaving them to make up for my absence.
I’m extremely hurt, and I do not feel supported in my grief at all. How do I handle this?
DEAR NO EMPATHY: People who have never suffered loss sometimes lack the capacity to feel others’ pain. The very definition of empathy is one’s ability to understand and share the feelings of another.
It sounds like your colleagues were thinking about themselves, not you.
I hope you did thank them for having your back during your tender time, as that is you showing empathy for them. Besides that, you do not need to do anything else with them. Instead, create a network of support outside your job so that you do not feel alone as you continue to heal your heart.
You can also forgive them for not understanding what you are going through. That will make it easier for you to work with them every day and not feel hurt.
Years ago, a young woman who worked for me lost her mother. She was absolutely devastated. I gave here time off and attempted to be supportive. One day she told me that my overtures and words of sympathy did not ring true for her. Her grief, she said, was so deep that my attempts to be there for her seemed insignificant.
I was trying to be there for her, and still I fell short. I appreciated her telling me how she felt. At that point, all that I could do was assure her that I wanted to offer whatever support she needed, yet I did not know how.
I asked her what I could do or say to help her. While she could not find the words to tell me, she said she appreciated me asking.
Sometimes grief runs so deep that those around you may be incapable of being good allies at the moment. That’s when professional grief support is likely in order.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My brother received an email from an unverified address offering him a “full-ride scholarship.” He started telling everyone about it immediately, but I did some research and could not find anything that proves that the offer is legitimate.
I tried to warn him about my suspicions, but he’s convinced that scholarship is the real deal.
I do not want him to be crushed. I also do not want him to keep telling people about the news so prematurely. He will not hear me at all. What should I do?
DEAR ILLEGITIMATE OFFER: What people think does not matter as much as what the reality is. Do your best to continue the investigation of this scholarship.
Track it down to find out from where it is coming and when the promised funds will arrive. Contact your brother’s college of choice and ask the financial aid office if they know of this source.
Also, do the math to determine how much money your brother will need to pay for college if this scholarship falls through. Then remind your brother of your concerns and talk to him about a backup plan in case he has a shortfall. The worst thing that could happen is for him to be unable to attend college because he did not calculate how to finance it properly.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c / o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.