The Thing about Sheryl Sandberg

Posted on Jan 14, 2018 in Book Testimonials, General Grief

Copyright by World Economic Forum.
Photo by Moritz Hager

I think there might be something special about Sheryl Sandberg. More than just the fact that she presents well and functions on little sleep.

If you don’t know Sheryl, she is COO of Facebook, known for her cutting edge book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, and having the unfortunate first hand life-doesn’t-behave-as-expected experience of becoming a young widow. With the death of Dave, she deserved privacy, but was given little. Subsequently she co-authored Option B with Adam Grant, addressing how to be resilient in face of loss.

If you don’t remember her from the above, possibly you will remember her recently fielding questions before a Congressional hearing regarding Facebook’s responsibility in Russian interference in the last presidential election. She was no fool: she didn’t serve FB up on a platter, and yet she openly addressed Facebook’s responsibility to society.

All of it impressive.

But that’s not what I am talking about when I say I think there is something special about Sheryl Sandberg.

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The Holiday Letter

Posted on Dec 20, 2017 in General Grief, Holidays

The other side of the coin: recently posted What’’s article about writing a holiday card to someone who is grieving. Today we approach the dilemma from the griever’s point of view.

Carolyn Parr offers a simple outline and a very good reason why we should write others when we are struggling: “Your own truth-telling may free others to face their own situation with courage.”

Grief taught me to write the perfect holiday letter

Carolyn Miller Parr

In October of 2015 the man who had been my husband for fifty-six years died. December found me still numb with grief. As my children and I struggled to navigate the season without a compass, we were feeling a lot of things. Joy wasn’t one of them. If it was there, it was buried under a thick layer of pain.

It was time to write the annual holiday letter Jerry and I had always written together, but I felt lost. Should I just skip it and leave friends wondering whether they’d been abandoned? Should I spill tears all over the page? Should I put on a happy face to hide the pain?

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Holiday blues: Four Mistakes We Make

Posted on Dec 17, 2017 in General Grief, Holidays

Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant, Opinion contributors –  Dec. 1, 2017

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg says she hopes her new book on grief will teach readers how to help others after a tragedy. USA TODAY

If you have a loved one who’s suffering, “Happy holidays!” can feel like a cruel joke. The most wonderful time of the year? Not for everyone.

We’ve all been there: Someone we know is suffering, and we’re not sure what to do. In Hilary Weisfeld’s case, her daughter’s teacher had a 4-year-old girl with leukemia who was admitted to the hospital. They weren’t close friends; Hilary had never met the little girl.

Hilary went to a toy store, bought a stuffed animal, and sent an email: “I’m coming to the hospital with a package for your daughter. I don’t want to invade your privacy or hers. If you don’t feel like coming down I’ll leave it at the front desk. No pressure.” The teacher replied immediately, inviting her up. As the girl unwrapped her new toy, the teacher thanked Hilary with tears in her eyes.

Although we all want to support others through hardship, knowing how to do that isn’t always intuitive. Every bookstore has a self-help section — but sometimes what we really need is a “help others” section.

The holidays are supposed to be a time of celebration — but if you’re dealing with illness, divorce, incarceration or grief, that festive spirit can feel like salt being poured on a wound. Holidays can make you painfully aware of the love, liberty or life you’ve lost.

If you have a loved one who’s suffering, phrases you’ve used a thousand times without a second thought —“Happy holidays! Season’s greetings!” — can feel like a cruel joke. The most wonderful time of the year? Not for everyone.

Many people are afraid to acknowledge others’ pain: They don’t want to bring it up. Only after Sheryl’s husband Dave died suddenly did we realize how ridiculous that is. You can’t remind her Dave is gone. She’s aware of that every day.

The elephant is always there. The best thing you can do is speak up instead of saying silent. But knowing what to say can be as hard as finding the courage to say something. For most of our lives, we’ve made four big mistakes.

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Should I Send A Holiday Card?

Posted on Dec 10, 2017 in General Grief, Holidays

So you are one of those wonderful people who still sends snail mail holiday greetings. Your cards and list are in front of you, your pen is in hand, and stamps are at your side. Everything is going swimmingly until you come upon a person/couple on your list who has had a loved one die during the past year. Should you send them a card, you wonder?

Good question, and one I have never addressed on 

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Posted on Oct 29, 2017 in General Grief

We Californians are used to fire.

We watch the news and our hearts go out to the firefighters’ seemingly impossible task of containing a fire that rages through acres of uninhabited forest.

We hold our breath when fire rips through a wooded area where homes are tucked, and we grieve for the residents.

But we who live in Northern California have yet to get our arms around the tragic firestorm that recently leveled entire communities, took lives and displaced so many.

Where we live is sacred to us, no matter how small. “Home” isn’t just a place, it is also a feeling. We always assume “home” will be there for us at the end of the day. It is a place where we relax, find comfort, and feel safe. It is our anchor. How often do we say to ourselves, “I can’t wait to get home?”

This morning I read Francis Weller’s post, “Everything is Burning.” Francis is a Northern California therapist who lives Santa Rosa – one of the communities that was engulfed in flames. He writes beautifully about the “soul-shaking” trauma that hit Sonoma and Napa counties, and he suggests how to cope with what we can’t control. Take a few minutes to allow Francis to open your heart.

Everything is Burning, by Francis Weller

Post: 10/23/2017

These last few weeks have seen radical changes in the physical and psychic landscape of Northern California. The fires that began late Sunday night, October 8th, quickly engulfed homes and dreams, woodlands and security. Many of us awoke in the middle of the night to the acrid smell of smoke, sensing that something was wrong. Only later, with the dawn light, were we able to see the extent of this disturbing truth.

The German word for trauma is “Seelenerschütterung,” which means “soul-shaking.” Clearly, our souls have been shaken by this catastrophic event. Everyone has been affected, whether we lost a loved one, a home, a beloved pet, our place of employment, a trail that we cherished or simply our sense of faith in the ordinary assurances of daily life. No one in our community has been spared the sorrows that have fallen upon us like ash. We are living in a collective field of sorrows that will take a long, long time to metabolize.

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YES, I am Over 50 and I Miss Sex!

Posted on Jul 23, 2017 in General Grief, Spousal/Partner Loss

So often the bereaved can’t, or don’t, talk about what is important to them. This week’s Jane Brody NYT’s column, When a Partner Dies, Grieving the Loss of Sex, tackles one of our society’s taboo topics.

For anyone who is recently widowed – and for those of us who work with the bereaved, Brody’s column is a must read.

> Read:  When a Partner Dies, Grieving the Loss of Sex


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