Sheryl Sandberg's Incredibly Touching Tribute To Husband Dave Goldberg Will Bring Tears To Your Eyes
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and a prominent advocate of women in the workplace, wrote a touching tribute to her husband and SurveyMonkey chief executive Dave Goldberg on Wednesday. Goldberg died while exercising during a vacation in Mexico with his family, and it has been 30 days since his death, according to Sandberg's post. Sandberg's Facebook tribute on the loss of her husband is heartbreaking and beautiful. You can read it in full here.
Sandberg and Goldberg are both Jewish, so she followed traditional practices for mourning the death of a loved one. According to her post, Judaism calls for shiva, which is an intense, seven-day period of mourning immediately after a loved one is buried. Then, sheloshim begins, where most normal activities can be resumed, but a set period of mourning still takes place until 30 days after the loved one's death. Wednesday marked the end of sheloshim. Sandberg wrote that when a tragedy occurs, you can give in to the "the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs," or you can find meaning.
According to Mashable, the post marks Sandberg's most extensive and candid comments about her husband's death since the accident. In the post, she talks about her growth over the last 30 days: "I have lived thirty years in these thirty days. I am thirty years sadder." But she also says that she wants to thank those who have helped her, and try to share what she has learned "in the hope that it helps someone else":
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. She has fought to hold back her own tears to make room for mine. She has explained to me that the anguish I am feeling is both my own and my children’s, and I understood that she was right as I saw the pain in her own eyes.
Sandberg wrote that returning to work was "a savior," but that she had no idea how to interact with coworkers, and she could tell that they had no idea how to interact with her. Her tribute gives amazing advice on how to talk to someone who has just gone through a tragic loss. For example, Sheryl wrote that asking "How are you doing today?" is better than asking her, "How are you doing," because the latter seems to ignore the fact that she just suffered a great loss, while the former acknowledges the fact that it's difficult to get through each day. She said what comforted her most was when men told her they were spending more time with their families to honor Goldberg, or when one friend said his wife was finally going back to school as a tribute to him. Her words give guidance on how to truly connect and show empathy:
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.
But Sandberg's strength was not 100 percent perfect. She wasn't afraid to talk about her vulnerable moments, when she needed to lean on friends — moments when she missed her husband the most:
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.”
Sandberg's words echo for anyone who has lost a loved one. The loss is irreparable, but it provides us with a choice about how we will move forward. Sandberg said she "want(s) to choose life and meaning" for her husband:
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. As Bono sang, "There is no end to grief ... and there is no end to love." I love you, Dave.
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