Sheryl Sandberg seemed to have it all. A loving and supportive husband, two fantastic kids, a successful career, and a bestselling book. Unfortunately, tragedy came 30 days ago when her husband, David Goldberg, died tragically after falling off a treadmill while on a family vacation in Mexico.
Sandberg is the COO of Facebook, and her husband David was the CEO at SurveyMonkey — Two people who were not only successful at their careers, but in their family life as well. Sandberg’s recent book, Lean In, encouraged other women to do the same. Holding a leadership position while still managing a family is possible in the 21st century.
“I have lived thirty years in these thirty days. I am thirty years sadder. I feel like I am thirty years wiser.“
Marking the end of sheloshim, the first 30 days of mourning, Sandberg posted a very heart-wrenching story on Facebook that will bring tears to your eyes. Unless something similar has happened to you, one can only imagine how much pain something like this can bring.
Sandberg wrote, “I have lived thirty years in these thirty days. I am thirty years sadder. I feel like I am thirty years wiser.“ A profound quote, but she really summed up the tragic situation in a one-line prayer a rabbi told her years ago, “Let me not die while I am still alive.” She admits that she never understood what it meant until David died. She reveals that she has cried herself to sleep every night while her mother held her, and talks about the “agony“ she feels when her “children scream and cry.”
The words “life goes on,” always comes to mind when tragedy surrounds us, but that is easier said then done. As Sandberg puts it, “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.” Finding that isn’t easy, but even though she has spent most of her time lost in the void, she has chosen life and meaning. It’s a likely struggle, because even though Sandberg will probably know happiness once again, she says she will never feel “pure joy” ever again.
There are more than a few lessons in her post, but one that really stands out is about taking life for granted. No matter the situation, we all take things for granted. Sandberg said, “I have learned how ephemeral everything can feel — and maybe everything is. That whatever rug you are standing on can be pulled right out from under you with absolutely no warning.” We all know this to be true, but many of us seem to go through life thinking that it will never happen to us.
Much like Lean In empowered women to go for it all, Sandberg’s post should empower us all to appreciate everything in our lives. Did you give your spouse a hug and a kiss today? Did you stop and listen when your child was telling you something that happened at school today? Did you get angry at the small stuff? Sandberg is telling you to cherish your lives and the friends and family that are around you, because there is no guarantee that carpet will be under your feet tomorrow.