Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says mourning her husband left her '30 years sadder'

Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg (left), with her husband David Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey, at a media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho on  July 9, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg (left), with her husband David Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey, at a media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho on  July 9, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook's Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg took to the social media site on Wednesday to say she felt 30 years sadder after the 30-day mourning period she observed following her husband's sudden death.

Sandberg's husband, SurveyMonkey Chief Executive Dave Goldberg, died on May 1 after falling off a treadmill during a vacation in Mexico.

Sandberg posted an online tribute four days after the death of Goldberg, who built a company valued at $2 billion. She has also periodically shared posts about her mourning and pictures of Goldberg.

Her 1,731-word post Wednesday marked the end of sheloshim, the traditional Jewish 30-day period of mourning for a spouse. "I have lived thirty years in these thirty days," Sandberg wrote. "I am thirty years sadder. I feel like I am thirty years wiser."

Sandberg also said Goldberg's death helped her gain a "more profound understanding of what it is to be a mother," and that she rejoiced that her children were alive each day.

She ended the post with lyrics from Bono, who sang at Goldberg's Silicon Valley memorial service last month. "'There is no end to grief ... and there is no end to love,'" she posted. "I love you, Dave."

In the post, which was shared more than 150,000 times and liked more than 380,000 times on Thursday morning, Sandberg shared intimate details of her mourning process saying she hopes it will help someone else. 

She talked choosing life and meaning, gratitude and learning from her experience what to say to those in grief:

"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. But when I can, I want to choose life and meaning."

"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... 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."

"I have learned to ask for help—and I have learned how much help I need. Until now, I have been the older sister, the COO, the doer and the planner. I did not plan this, and when it happened, I was not capable of doing much of anything. Those closest to me took over. They planned. They arranged. They told me where to sit and reminded me to eat. They are still doing so much to support me and my children."

"I have learned gratitude. Real gratitude for the things I took for granted before—like life. As heartbroken as I am, I look at my children each day and rejoice that they are alive. I appreciate every smile, every hug. I no longer take each day for granted.  When a friend told me that he hates birthdays and so he was not celebrating his, I looked at him and said through tears, “Celebrate your birthday, goddammit. You are lucky to have each one.” My next birthday will be depressing as hell, but I am determined to celebrate it in my heart more than I have ever celebrated a birthday before."

"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. As Bono sang, “There is no end to grief . . . and there is no end to love.” I love you, Dave."

 

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Today is the end of sheloshim for my beloved husband—the first thirty days. Judaism calls for a period of intense...

Posted by Sheryl Sandberg on Wednesday, 3 June 2015