Monday, October 14, 2013

A note on the death of my colleague

First, I'm doing fine. As I said in my last post, this wasn't someone to whom I was particularly close, although s/he was in my division (and I'll be talking to the Provost about how to staff his/her classes this afternoon). Thank you all for your condolences.

What I want to say is that this death has made me me--and, I suspect, many of my colleagues--think, painfully, about the importance of kindness.

Our late colleague, although s/he had a good heart, was sometimes hard to work with; s/he could be a little...lost in space, seemingly, at times. S/he was never prickly or difficult, but we got impatient. I got impatient.

None of us was responsible for what s/he did. But we could have been kinder. I could have been kinder.

In the last week, I think that we all learned a lot about him/her that we never knew--good things; things about the love that s/he had for his/her students, and how meaningful that was to them. I would have liked to have known these things before. And I would have liked to have had the patience, and the grace, to appreciate them as I ought to have done.

So I hope that I learn that. Because, honestly, there are a lot of people that I could write this stuff about. As one of my co-workers put it: Will this make me less of a bitch? I hope so.


Fie upon this quiet life! said...

You know -- everyone could be a little more kind. But don't feel guilty. When people commit suicide, there are a lot more things going on than just their work environment and how that impacts them. One could always find a different job or do a complete career change. When one is depressed enough to commit suicide, there are usually very deep issues that the person is contending with -- an utter hopelessness and sense of futility. Those issues can make normal environments feel hostile, yes. But to a person who is not depressed, maybe that environment seems just fine.

I've known a few people who committed suicide, and it's very painful and shocking when you witness the consummation of that much depression. I hope your department, school, and students can support each other and find healing.

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Wow. Yeah: lessons in compassion. I need to practice that more often. I mean, I try, and mostly I do a good job, but what about practicing compassion for people you don't like so much? That's harder. But just as essential.