Sheryl Sandberg’s Extraordinary Confession On The Death Of Her Husband

Sheryl Sandberg

Sheryl Sandberg

GRADUALLY, HER CHILDREN STARTED CRYING LESS AND PLAYING MORE

“That brief second helped me see that there were other things in my life that were not awful. My children and I were healthy. My friends and family were so loving and they carried us—quite literally at times.

“The loss of a partner often has severe negative financial consequences, especially for women. So many single mothers—and fathers—struggle to make ends meet or have jobs that don’t allow them the time they need to care for their children. I had financial security, the ability to take the time off I needed, and a job that I did not just believe in, but where it’s actually OK to spend all day on Facebook. Gradually, my children started sleeping through the night, crying less, playing more.

“The third P is permanence—the belief that the sorrow will last forever. For months, no matter what I did, it felt like the crushing grief would always be there.

“We often project our current feelings out indefinitely—and experience what I think of as the second derivative of those feelings. We feel anxious—and then we feel anxious that we’re anxious. We feel sad—and then we feel sad that we’re sad. Instead, we should accept our feelings—but recognize that they will not last forever. My rabbi told me that time would heal but for now I should “lean in to the suck.” It was good advice, but not really what I meant by “lean in.”

DON’T FORGET THE PIZZA–FROM CHEESE BOARD

Sandberg put a humorous touch into her speech, noting that “None of you need me to explain the fourth P…which is, of course, pizza from Cheese Board.

“But I wish I had known about the three P’s when I was your age. There were so many times these lessons would have helped.

“As I stand here today, a year after the worst day of my life, two things are true. I have a huge reservoir of sadness that is with me always—right here where I can touch it. I never knew I could cry so often—or so much.

“But I am also aware that I am walking without pain. For the first time, I am grateful for each breath in and out—grateful for the gift of life itself. I used to celebrate my birthday every five years and friends’ birthdays sometimes. Now I celebrate always. I used to go to sleep worrying about all the things I messed up that day—and trust me that list was often quite long. Now I try really hard to focus on each day’s moments of joy.

FINDING DEEPER GRATITUDE FOR THE GOOD THINGS IN HER LIFE

“It is the greatest irony of my life that losing my husband helped me find deeper gratitude—gratitude for the kindness of my friends, the love of my family, the laughter of my children. My hope for you is that you can find that gratitude—not just on the good days, like today, but on the hard ones, when you will really need it.

“There are so many moments of joy ahead of you. That trip you always wanted to take. A first kiss with someone you really like. The day you get a job doing something you truly believe in. Beating Stanford. (Go Bears!) All of these things will happen to you. Enjoy each and every one.

“I hope that you live your life—each precious day of it—with joy and meaning. I hope that you walk without pain—and that you are grateful for each step.

“And when the challenges come, I hope you remember that anchored deep within you is the ability to learn and grow. You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are—and you just might become the very best version of yourself.

BUILDING RESILENCE

“Class of 2016, as you leave Berkeley, build resilience.

“Build resilience in yourselves. When tragedy or disappointment strike, know that you have the ability to get through absolutely anything. I promise you do. As the saying goes, we are more vulnerable than we ever thought, but we are stronger than we ever imagined.

“Build resilient organizations. If anyone can do it, you can, because Berkeley is filled with people who want to make the world a better place. Never stop working to do so—whether it’s a boardroom that is not representative or a campus that’s not safe. Speak up, especially at institutions like this one, which you hold so dear. My favorite poster at work reads, “Nothing at Facebook is someone else’s problem.” When you see something that’s broken, go fix it.

“Build resilient communities. We find our humanity—our will to live and our ability to love—in our connections to one another. Be there for your family and friends. And I mean in person. Not just in a message with a heart emoji.

“Lift each other up, help each other kick the shit out of option B—and celebrate each and every moment of joy.

“You have the whole world in front of you. I can’t wait to see what you do with it.”

DON’T MISS: SHERYL SANDBERG’S INSPIRING SPEECH AT HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL

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