Sheryl Sandberg marked the end of sheloshim, the religious period of mourning in Judaism, by penning a touching, emotional note about her late husband, Dave Goldberg. The Lean In author, 45, reflected on the unexpected loss of Goldberg 30 days after he passed away at the age of 47.
"I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice," Sandberg wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday, June 3. "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 30 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."
"And this is why I am writing: to mark the end of sheloshim and to give back some of what others have given to me," Sandberg continued. "While the experience of grief is profoundly personal, the bravery of those who have shared their own experiences has helped pull me through. Some who opened their hearts were my closest friends. Others were total strangers who have shared wisdom and advice publicly. So I am sharing what I have learned in the hope that it helps someone else. In the hope that there can be some meaning from this tragedy. I have lived 30 years in these 30 days. I am 30 years sadder. I feel like I am 30 years wiser."
Goldberg died in Punta Mita, Mexico after falling off a treadmill while on vacation with Sandberg. The Facebook COO is now raising the couple's son and daughter on her own.
"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," the businesswoman continued. "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 went on to touch on the support she has received from those around her, as well as their pieces of advice and even the inaction from those who had no idea what to say or do.
"I have learned how ephemeral everything can feel — and maybe everything is," she wrote. "That whatever rug you are standing on can be pulled right out from under you with absolutely no warning... 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," Sandberg continued. "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... I can’t even express the gratitude I feel to my family and friends who have done so much and reassured me that they will continue to be there. In the brutal moments when I am overtaken by the void, when the months and years stretch out in front of me endless and empty, only their faces pull me out of the isolation and fear. My appreciation for them knows no bounds."
Sandberg, who is returning to her work at Facebook, said she is choosing to be optimistic for the future. She is looking ahead, working through the overwhelming loss of her husband of more than 10 years.
"I was talking [to a friend] about a father-child activity that Dave is not here to do," she added. "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 s--t 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 s--t 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."