Sheryl Sandberg: What I Learned in 30 Days of Mourning

Facebook COO lays bare her experience
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 3, 2015 11:49 AM CDT
Sheryl Sandberg: What I Learned in 30 Days of Mourning
In this July 6, 2011, file photo, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, left, is seen with her husband, David Goldberg.   (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg today marks the end of sheloshim—a 30-day period of religious mourning—for her "beloved husband" with an honest and moving post on Facebook. In its nearly 1,750 words, she touches on many aspects of the grief she has felt since Dave Goldberg died last month, along with the revelations it has brought. She writes, for instance, "I have gained a more profound understanding of what it is to be a mother, both through the depth of the agony I feel when my children scream and cry and from the connection my mother has to my pain. She has tried to fill the empty space in my bed, holding me each night until I cry myself to sleep." But while that might be specific to mothers, another passage is more universal: the awkwardness of what to say to someone who is grieving or hurting. She writes:

  • "I have learned that I never really knew what to say to others in need. I think I got this all wrong before; I tried to assure people that it would be okay, thinking that hope was the most comforting thing I could offer. ... Real empathy is sometimes not insisting that it will be okay but acknowledging that it is not. When people say to me, 'You and your children will find happiness again,' my heart tells me, Yes, I believe that, but I know I will never feel pure joy again. Those who have said, 'You will find a new normal, but it will never be as good' comfort me more because they know and speak the truth. Even a simple 'How are you?'—almost always asked with the best of intentions—is better replaced with 'How are you today?' When I am asked 'How are you?” I stop myself from shouting, My husband died a month ago, how do you think I am? When I hear 'How are you today?' I realize the person knows that the best I can do right now is to get through each day."
Read her entire bold and touching post, in which she explains why she plans to "kick the shit out of option B." In the first days after Goldberg's death, Sandberg addressed her "unexpected hell." (More Sheryl Sandberg stories.)

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