Sheryl Sandberg's beautiful, moving tribute to her late husband Dave
A little over a month ago, the world was shocked and saddened by the unexpected and tragic loss of Dave Goldberg, CEO of SurveyMonkey and husband of Facebook COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg. Goldberg was certainly one of the most successful people in the Silicon Valley, but more importantly, he was a beloved father, husband, and friend—”talented, successful, bright, kind, humble, and universally admired and liked,” as Fortune wrote in a commemorative piece.
In Judaism, the first thirty days after death are collectively called “sheloshim.” This is a period of religious morning for a spouse. Today is the official end of sheloshim, and Sandberg, has written a gorgeously heartbreaking tribute to her late husband. Though she has spoken about her loss previously, this post is raw, real, and expresses her love for her Goldberg, as well as some truly beautiful insight about life and grief.
“A childhood friend of mine who is now a rabbi recently told me that the most powerful one-line prayer he has ever read is: ‘Let me not die while I am still alive,'” Sandberg wrote on Facebook today. “I would have never understood that prayer before losing Dave. Now I do.”
Sandberg went further on to describe the intense pain, grief, and confusion she’s experienced after the sudden loss of her husband. “I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice,” she continued. “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.”
Sandberg also thanked those who have helped her through the past thirty days, expressing that she wishes to do the same for others. “While the experience of grief is profoundly personal, the bravery of those who have shared their own experiences has helped pull me through,” Sandberg wrote. “. . . 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.”
Goldberg was also survived by his two children. “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 wrote.
What do you say to those who have experienced the most deepest of heartbreaks? Sandberg goes on to explain that it’s something you will never know until you experience it.
“I have learned that I never really knew what to say to others in need,” she continued. “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…Real empathy is sometimes not insisting that it will be okay but acknowledging that it is not.”
Sandberg has been trying to let people in and address the “elephant in the room,” but it can be immensely difficult—like when she went to Portfolio Night at her children’s school. “So many of the parents—all of whom have been so kind—tried to make eye contact or say something they thought would be comforting,” she said. “I looked down the entire time so no one could catch my eye for fear of breaking down. I hope they understood.”
As absolutely tragic as the loss of her husband has been, it has helped her to stay present. “As heartbroken as I am, I look at my children each day and rejoice that they are alive,” she continued. “I appreciate every smile, every hug. I no longer take each day for granted.”
“I was talking to one of these friends about a father-child activity that Dave is not here to do,” she wrote. “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.”
Thank you so much, Sheryl, for opening up so publicly about your loss to help other women who may be going through the same thing. Your tribute was absolutely beautiful. Our hearts will be with you, from now until forever.