»The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us for an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing… not healing, not curing… that is a friend who cares.«
— Henri Nouwen
The “absence” of some of my friends had me in deeper despair crying out too much, too loud, too chaotic, rampantly voicing my pain all over the place, burdening those I never wanted to burden. Silence is brutal only when there is no-one visibly there as well. I felt like being emotionally deaf and blind and just hopelessly crying out uncontrollably.
In my pain and despair I reached out to a friend who was overwhelmed and withdrew early on. I said that I understand that they don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do either, so can we not do the unknown together?
A friend sent this following article to me a few months ago, but I just finished reading it tonight.
I draw strength from strangers.
One quote from this Guardian article:
»In the early months after Goldberg’s death, Sandberg says she made the three classic mistakes – “the three ps – personalisation, pervasiveness and permanence”. She blamed herself for his death: “Especially because the early reports, which were false, said he died by falling off an exercise machine. So I absolutely thought that if I had looked for him sooner, he would be alive. A friend would say to me, ‘You didn’t leave a three-year-old alone in a gym.’ But I felt hugely guilty.” When the autopsy revealed undiagnosed coronary artery disease, “I spent months thinking I should have known that. I felt hugely guilty; you blame yourself endlessly. Then one day Adam [Grant] said, ‘If you do not recover, your kids cannot recover. That is it. You must.’ So that really snapped me out of it. I was like, OK, this isn’t my fault. I stopped taking it personally.«
Kids are a great motivator to keep going.
Another quote in the article:
»Another mistake she’d made before Goldberg died was to ask people in trouble, “Is there anything I can do?” She says, “I really meant it. But it kind of shifts the burden to the person who needs the help to tell you.” The classic inquiry, “How are you?” also turned out to be unhelpful. “Well, my husband just died on the floor of a gym. Like, how am I?” The more meaningful question, she learned, is “How are you today?
But the biggest – and remarkably common – mistake is to ask nothing at all. “I want to talk about Dave. Bringing up Dave to me is always a positive. It doesn’t make me sad. I know he’s gone.” I ask if anyone has said they didn’t like to mention him as they didn’t want to “remind” her of her loss, and she laughs. “Yes. It’s not possible to remind me.” She recommends something she calls the platinum rule of friendship, “not to treat people as you want to be treated, but treat people as they want to be treated. That’s a pretty big mind shift, and some people do that quite naturally and some people don’t.”«
»To anyone who saw The Social Network, the film about Facebook’s origins which portrayed Zuckerberg as a socially awkward computer geek, this may come as a surprise, but the emotionally astute stand-out star of Option B is Sandberg’s boss. “Mark is why I’m walking. Most of what [he and his wife Priscilla] did is not even in the book, because they did so much. When I felt so overwhelmed and so isolated and just needed to cry, I would drag him into his conference room and he would just sit there with me and be like, ‘We’re going to get through this and we want to get through it with you.’ He did it over and over.”«
Well, Facebook may be there for its employees in tragedy, especially the high-ranking ones. I live in a different world.
The following part of the article I struggle with:
»Sandberg is a natural leader and problem solver – not merely Facebook’s COO but its living embodiment – who has dealt with her grief almost as if it were a failing business to be turned around; she studied the data, applied herself to its findings, and found the potential for growth.«
Beautiful writing, but appalling thought. I’m sure it wasn’t meant the way I read it.
»Survivor guilt is a thief of joy. When people lose a loved one, they are not just racked with grief, but also with remorse. “I could have saved her.” “Why am I the one who is still alive?” Even after acute grief is gone, the guilt remains. “I didn’t spend enough time with him.”«
I like: “We take things back”
»With Rob’s and Amy’s words ringing in my ears, I decided to try having fun for my children – and with my children. Dave had loved playing Catan with our kids. One afternoon, I asked them if they wanted to play. They did. In the past, I was always orange. My daughter was blue. My son was red. Dave was grey. When just the three of us sat down to play, my daughter pulled out the grey pieces. My son got upset and tried to take them away from her, insisting, “That was Daddy’s colour. You can’t be grey!” I held his hand and said, “She can be grey. We take things back.”«