Life and Death Lessons

Thank you, Sheryl Sandberg, for having the courage and grace to speak from the heart to the graduates at UC Berkeley. Your words of wisdom were profound and wise.  And, thanks to all of you who feared I might miss or might listen to (or read) her comments and forwarded the link to her graduation speech.

It’s another reminder of how similar and yet how different we all are. She and I share grief, heartbreak, and loneliness, and, as she calls it the “brutality of loss” for husbands who died suddenly of unexpected heart attacks. We share gratitude. Sheryl found deeper gratitude and appreciation after her husband Dave’s death. She also discovered the depths of her resilience. I felt gratitude to be unconditionally loved, moment to moment, day to day and year after year. I learned from my husband’s life about kindness and grace.

Sheryl and I are both familiar with Seligman’s 3 P’s and how important resilience is in processing negative events. The first P.  Personalization. She found her husband. I would still be inconsolable if that happened to me. I would have lived with the feeling that I could have done something then and there to save him -medical knowledge be dammed.  As odd as it sounds, I am so grateful that my husband died (4 very long months ago) as we lived. He felt a burning in his chest as he was exercising (at home) and his last words were, “I think I’ll sit and watch the swans”. For a man who loved nature, living in his dream house, watching the birds, wow. There was only the slightest gasp (he was a quiet and gentle person, never wanting to call attention to himself). I rushed over, pushed him off the chair, did the TV version of CPR and knew instantly that I got his last breath and he got mine. I knew he was gone. Forever. EMS came rapidly and could not resuscitate him. We were one of those goofy Siamese twin couples who liked to always do everything together. I am so grateful for our ending. There always has to be one. And we were together.

This is making me too sad to go through the other P’s, but suffice it to say, the real point is that everyone grieves differently. I am grateful for family and friends who have always been and continue to be there for me. Sheryl Sandberg’s courage lead me to this public tribute, to my husband, Roger. A sterling example of a life well-lived. I miss you. I love you, too.


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