Grieving out loud – does it help?

One month after her husband died suddenly, Sheryl Sandburg wrote a beautiful and poignant epistle about her grief and shared

One month after her husband died suddenly, Sheryl Sandburg wrote a beautiful and poignant epistle about her grief and shared it on Facebook. As the chief operating officer of Facebook, her words landed in a large pond and the ripples spread far and wide.

She wrote, “I know that many future moments will be consumed by the vast emptiness as well. But when I can, I want to choose life and meaning.”

Millions of people read those words and shared her pain, but Ms Sandburg has now revealed that she almost didn’t press “publish” on the post. Because to grieve so loud is not something we do.

There once was a time when grief in cultures of British origin was a quiet, private affair. When a woman became a widow or lost a child, she was expected to grieve – but preferably without too much fuss, and not for too long.

But when a person is in pain, writing can help. In the past this might have meant penning a letter or keeping a diary. In today’s world of social media and connectivity, our words can travel far. Most crucially, our words are not simply thrown into the void – they reach real people, and those friends and strangers can instantly react, either by sharing their own story, or offering support.

Today, six months after the death of her Dave Goldberg from a head trauma, Ms Sandburg says that sharing her feelings with strangers helped her to begin to heal. In an interview on The Today Show, she said of her husband’s death, “It’s…a pretty isolating thing to live through. No one quite knows what to say. Everyone looks at you like a deer in the headlights.”

After she wrote post, however, she says “people started talking to me more openly, even strangers.”

“I think loss and trying to rebuild and resilience are such a huge part of the human condition. By sharing on Facebook, I felt part of that global community.”

“My children and I have worked so hard to rebuild our lives and find happiness and joy and gratitude again [and] I think the support of strangers and our friends made a huge difference,” Sandberg said in the interview.

Ms Sandburg said she has always loved the mission of Facebook, but now understands it on a different level – the impact, she says is, “you feel not alone”.

Has Facebook or social media helped you grieve? Do you think sharing your grief online is the right way to heal, or is it different for everyone?

This woman says her extraordinarily public grief after her husband died made it easier to start the healing process. Has this helped you? Do you think it could?

  1. I’ve been a widow for just 2.5 months & keeping busy seems to help with the grieving. A chat or visit from family or friends helps also but the loneliness & not being able to go out as a couple is the worst for me.

  2. i lost me 20 year old daughter to skin cancer. i keep my sadness to my alone time. its my grief , i like to keep it to myself.

  3. Everyone grieves in their own way, there is no right or wrong, grief is what it is, loss. Its about learning to live again in a new way. Its about gratitude and reflection, so many different perspectives and beliefs.
    When it comes down to it, it begins a step at a time, hopefully towards something good and beautiful.

    • Totally agree Philomena, one step at a time and did it on my own. My girls were grieving also so they needed their space.

    • I agree Philomena, also the time it takes is different for everyone, so just take as much time as needed.

    • Yes I agree its the time it takes for you not any one else so many people just don’t get that

  4. There’s no right or wrong way ,there’s only your way . But I think FB helps me in many ways such as replying to a comment about emotional things that you don’t say to family and friends personally,
    I can remember when it wasn’t one day at a time but just getting through the next hour was a big effort . 💐💐💐💐💐💐💐 for all the widows and widowers out there this Christmas

  5. Grief is a terrible burden to bear, no matter wgat sort of grief you are going through. I commend this lady. So many people find it hard to share how they are feeling. I use fb to share my feelings on lots of things, including grief. Who else would i talk to? It’s not good to bottle it up.

  6. Remember there is no time constraints on grief,everyone is different let them grieve in their own ways and time.

  7. It has helped me to know that others grieving feel life is very difficult and getting through the grief takes time. It’s an hourly struggle, it’s suffering awfully and a multitude of feelings.

  8. I lost my husband 16 months ago to a sudden stroke, still struggling to come to terms with the grieving process. It is very hard particularly at Christmas, I miss him so

  9. This week we have lost a nephew. It has been of great comfort to me, and I am sure a lot of his family to go to his page and read all the wonderful tributes he received.

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