I was very moved by this interview with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in The Observer, where she talks about how she coped with going to sleep beside her 47 year old husband, and waking up to discover that he was dead.
Journalist Decca Aitkenhead is one of our best writers, and while she wasn’t entirely won over by Sandberg, her story resonated with her because as she wrote, “The news of Sandberg’s loss made global headlines, but held a particular resonance for my family. I knew what it was to fly away a happy couple and come home with a coffin, for our own beach holiday had shattered into tragedy 12 months earlier when my partner had drowned”.
Sandberg and her husband were Jewish, and in that tradition, the bereaved have 30 days in which to mourn before getting on with life as best they can. The night before that ended, she posted her feelings to Facebook where the response astounded her.
She then embarked on a mission to deal with it, working with a psychologist to develop a strategy for coping with grief that has now been published in a book, Option B.
I haven’t read it, but its reviewers agree that not only do we have the ability to cope with devastating life events, but that we can rediscover joy and find greater and deeper meaning and appreciation for life.
The starting point for all of it is in sharing stories, which is what we do in our ceremonies: a GP once took me aside at a funeral to tell me that what I do is therapeutic: a body of evidence is building that supports his conclusion.
The dead live on when we talk about them: reclaiming their lives and allowing ourselves actively to seek out joy is part of our recovery.
I’m looking forward to reading the book, but the article itself is also very life-affirming.
I hope you enjoy it.