Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg Talks Husband’s Death in Inspirational Commencement Speech: ‘Celebrate Each and Every Moment of Joy’

Lessons learned. Sheryl Sandberg opened up about her husband Dave Goldberg’s death during an inspirational commencement speech at the University of California, Berkeley, on Saturday, May 14.

In the touching address, the Facebook COO discussed the moment she found Goldberg’s body while they were on vacation in Mexico and how it affected her.

“I’m not going to tell you today what I learned in life. Today, I’m going to try to tell you what I learned in death,” she prefaced. “I’ve not spoken about this publicly before, and it’s hard, but I’ve promised not to blow my nose on this beautiful Berkeley robe.”

Sheryl Sandberg
Sheryl Sandberg speaks during the 2016 commencement ceremony at UC Berkeley. UC Berkeley/YouTube

She continued, “One year and 13 days ago, I lost my husband, Dave. His death was sudden and unexpected. We were in Mexico celebrating a friend’s 50th birthday party. I took a nap. He went to work out. What followed was the unthinkable. I walked into a gym to find him lying on the floor. I flew home to tell my children that their father was gone. I watched his casket being lowered into the ground.”

Goldberg, who was the CEO of SurveyMonkey, died in May 2015 of a cardiac arrhythmia while working out on a treadmill. He was 47.

“For many months afterward, and at many times since, I was swallowed up in the deep fog of grief,” Sandberg said, with tears in her eyes. “Dave’s death changed me in very profound ways. I learned about the depths of sadness and the brutality of loss, but I also learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, find the surface and breathe again.”

She added, “I learned that, in the face of a void or in the face of any challenge, you can choose joy and meaning. I’m sharing this with you today in the hope that on this day in your lives, with all the momentum and the joy, you can learn in life the lessons I only learned in death. Lessons about hope, about strength and about the light within us that will not be extinguished.”

Sandberg, who frequently pays tribute to her late love on Facebook, told the graduating students that she eventually found gratitude and urged the audience to “build resilience” and “celebrate each and every moment of joy.”

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