A video of Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, went viral recently. In it Sandberg speaks candidly about the sudden death of her beloved husband while they were on vacation not so long ago. It's a moving video and includes so many life lessons that simply need no explanation.
I recommend you watch the video, but I'll summarize just a few of the points. It's always true that we learn so many life lessons from our grief, pain and disappointments. But we also learn from others who are so open about their own grief and pain. And Sandberg is just that.
She said a rabbi friend of hers once said something that now makes so much sense to her as she tries to make the most of each day and find the meaning. Here's what her friend said: "Let me not die while I am still alive." Ah, yes, such good advice. Better to stay awake and aware.
Sandberg says that she understands in a new way what it means to be a mother, both as she tries to comfort her own children and as her mother holds her and makes space for Sandberg's tears even when she (her mother) has her own pain.
The new widow shares ideas of what to say and not say to grieving people—and that's important to hear. Well-meaning people can say some extremely hurtful things. One thing she says is to not insist that everything will be OK but to acknowledge that, in fact, things really are not OK right now. And rather than ask, "How are you?" she advises asking, "How are you today?" Further, she says when you're grieving, let people in. Be vulnerable. Grief is much easier shared than borne alone.