Thursday, June 4, 2015

Sheryl Sandberg on grief & loss

By now, you've probably seen Facebook executive/"Lean In" author Sheryl Sandberg's extraordinary Facebook post, marking 30 days since the death of her 47-year-old husband, Dave Goldberg. But if you haven't, I urge you to have a read. It's kind of a manifesto, on the theme of "What I've learned about grief."

Part of me thinks 30 days might be a little soon to be making definitive statements about "what I've learned" -- because I'm afraid there are probably more lessons lurking around the corner for Ms Sandberg. Grief can be sneaky like that. Perhaps she should have added a qualifier -- "(so far)"? But I have to admit, she does cover the bases very well here, and while our losses are very different, I found myself nodding over just about every sentence. I read one article that suggested Sandberg may ignite a public conversation about grief in the same way that "Lean In" got people talking about women and work-life balance. We can only hope...!

Women who find themselves living without the children they had planned for and dreamed about often talk about finding their "plan B." So I had to smile a little when I read the last few paragraphs: 
I was talking to one of these friends about a father-child activity that Dave is not here to do. 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 has ended, I still mourn for option A. I will always mourn for option A.

I will always mourn for my option A too. I never was a great kicker, as my many school gym teachers and soccer teammates will affirm. ;)  But I too will do my best to kick the shit out of my personal option B. 


  1. Nicely said, Loribeth. I too marvelled that she was able to write this after only a month, thinking about how early it is in the scheme of things, and how much more she'll learn. But perhaps after only a month, people are more likely to read her piece, and if so, that's important too.

  2. A friend of mine lost her husband at the end of last year and when she shared her grief with me, I noticed many similarities, as well, but the problem is this: I have to hold my tongue (or hold back from typing) because I want to hold space for her grief and it's not easy because many times over I've been tempted to tell her the similarities between her grief and mine, but I know the timing's not right. Maybe in the distant future when her wounds aren't bleeding anymore...I'm learning to know when to shut up and just be there for her.

    Here's to doing our best then! :-)

  3. I agree with you, Amel and Mali. I think Ms. Sandberg has learned a lot in these last 30 days. But it's also the initial stages. Her grief will evolve as she continues down the road of life. And with that evolution will come new realizations and insights.

    That said, I think there's a lot of power from this piece. Because we're not allowed to talk about grief and all that comes following death. The assumption is that one will be sad, but then pick themselves up and simply move on. And it is that false assumption that leads to so much unhappiness and hurt. We need to grieve and do so without others imposing their ideas and beliefs on us.

    And I for one view you as a role model for kicking the shit out of option B

  4. Agree very much with all of the above comments and thoughts from Mali, Amel and Cristy...and for what it's worth I also think you are kicking the shit out of option B xo

  5. This is the thing I tell people now, that you don't stop wanting option A, but you learn to live with (and even enjoy) option B. You live with it. You make the best of it. 10 years after my first loss, it is this kind of advice I fall back on. It is the stuff that gets me through those tough moments when grief hits me again. Thanks for sharing.

    Ms. g.