What Sheryl Sandberg Learned About Motherhood Through Grief

Grief sends some people scurrying into isolation and silence; the pain makes them want to shut out any light or human connection. Sheryl Sandberg is not one of those people.

In a heartrending post on Facebook, under a photo of her late husband Dave Goldberg and her in a particularly, now gutwrenchingly, carefree moment she talks in depth about grief and how it feels. #8220I have lived thirty years in these thirty days. I am thirty years sadder. I feel like I am thirty years wiser,#8221 she writes.

It#8217s a very Sandbergian post, full of things she#8217s learned and hopes to pass along. But it#8217s also quite unSandbergian: raw and much less levelheaded than the cool, reasonable tone of Lean In. #8220I still hate every car that did not move to the side, every person who cared more about arriving at their destination a few minutes earlier than making room for us to pass,#8221 she writes of her ambulance ride to the hospital with Goldberg.

One of the things Sandberg addresses first is what she has learned about motherhood. #8220I have gained a more profound understanding of what it is to be a mother,#8221 she writes, #8220both through the depth of the agony I feel when my children scream and cry and from the connection my mother has to my pain.#8221 To be a mother, she suggests, is to double down on the pain. But to be a mother is also to have a potential source of joy. #8220As heartbroken as I am, I look at my children each day and rejoice that they are alive,#8221 she writes. #8220I appreciate every smile, every hug.#8221

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The Sandberg family has always been tight knit. Her sister lives close by and her parents, who reside in Florida, are very frequent visitors to the Bay Area. Spend any time with Sandberg#8217s parents and you#8217ll realize that her father is the calm, steady brainy one and her mom, while also whipsmart, is the passionate, activist one. And she#8217s the one Sandberg thanks first.

#8220She has fought to hold back her own tears to make room for mine,#8221 Sandberg writes. #8220She has explained to me that the anguish I am feeling is both my own and my childrenrsquos, and I understood that she was right as I saw the pain in her own eyes.#8221 She goes on to say that her mother has been lying in bed with her at night, #8220holding me each night until I cry myself to sleep.#8221

While expressing grief so openly and vulnerably on Facebook may seem a strange thing to domdashhas any other COO of a huge multinational media concern ever used their own company#8217s product for such purposes?mdash it#8217s not at all uncommon. Since the disappearance of most of our public mourning rituals, such as wearing black armbands or veils or wailing in the public square, social media has become one natural replacement.



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