Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg has spoken about her husband’s death – and the lessons she learned from it – for the first time at a university commencement speech in the US.
In a speech at UC Berkley, Sandberg said: “Dave's death changed me in very profound ways. I learned about the depths of sadness and the brutality of loss," she said. "But I also learned that when life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, break the surface, and breathe again."
Sandberg told the audience that they, too, will face setbacks and challenges that will be tougher than they can imagine. “The question is not if some of these things will happen to you. They will," Sandberg said.
"It is the hard days — the times that challenge you to your very core — that will determine who you are," she said. "You will be defined not just by what you achieve, but by how you survive,"
However, she said that we are all stronger than we realise. “When the challenges come, I hope you remember that anchored deep within you is the ability to learn and grow," Sandberg said. "You are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it."
Sandberg said that the key to overcoming grief was recognising and overcoming the 3 Ps: Personalisation, Pervasiveness and Permanence.
She said that personalisation is "the belief that we are at fault," and she counselled against believing that everything that happens to us happens because of us; pervasiveness is the belief that an event impacts all parts of life; and permanence is the belief that the sorrow will last forever - when it will not.
The speech comes a week after Sandberg wrote an impassioned paean to single mothers and the challenges of raising children (and balancing a career) while being a single mother.
Watch her speech below (from 1:23)