Sheryl Sandberg's Powerful Words On Loss

June 3rd 2015

Laura Donovan

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, author of "Lean In," and advocate for women in the workforce, has just reached the end of Shloshim for her late husband Dave Goldberg, who passed away suddenly at the beginning of May. A Jewish tradition, Shloshim is the 30-day mourning period following the death of an individual. Even through her grief Sandberg wrote a personal and inspirational Facebook post about her late husband.

"I have lived thirty years in these thirty days," Sandberg writes. "I am thirty years sadder. I feel like I am thirty years wiser."

Sandberg, who had two children with Goldberg, says there are two ways to handle grief: surrender to the devastation or try to find meaning. However difficult the undertaking, she hopes to find meaning:

"I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning. These past thirty days, I have spent many of my moments lost in that void. And I know that many future moments will be consumed by the vast emptiness as well." 

Though work has been a "savior" for Sandberg, who returned to Facebook less than two weeks after Goldberg's passing, she recognizes that some of her colleagues just didn't know what to say to her at first and "had a look of fear in their eyes" whenever she was nearby. While she ultimately has a lot of support at the office, day-to-day life can be hard. Sandberg recalls feeling despondent at a recent parents event at school:

" I went to Portfolio Night at school where kids show their parents around the classroom to look at their work hung on the walls. So many of the parents—all of whom have been so kind—tried to make eye contact or say something they thought would be comforting. I looked down the entire time so no one could catch my eye for fear of breaking down. I hope they understood."

Despite her struggles and the fact that she says she "will never feel pure joy again," Sandberg vows to make the best of her current situation, which is "option B." 

"I was talking to one of these friends about a father-child activity that Dave is not here to do," Sandberg writes. "We came up with a plan to fill in for Dave. I cried to him, 'But I want Dave. I want option A.' He put his arm around me and said, 'Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.' Dave, to honor your memory and raise your children as they deserve to be raised, I promise to do all I can to kick the shit out of option B. And even though sheloshim [sic] has ended, I still mourn for option A. I will always mourn for option A."

Read the full Facebook post here: