Sheryl Sandberg Reveals 'Joyful' New Year's Resolution in Emotional Essay on Healing After Husband's Death

by Zach Seemayer 12:22 AM PST, December 30, 2015
Photo: Getty Images

Sheryl Sandberg shared a powerful New Year's message on Wednesday morning, opening up about the loss of her husband earlier this year, and how she managed to pull through and heal with the support of her friends.

"Last year, my resolution was to meditate for ten minutes every day," Sandberg wrote in a lengthy open letter she posted to Facebook. "I shared this with my Lean In Circle of childhood girlfriends who all made their own resolutions. We were determined to support one another and knew that we’d be more likely to succeed if we held one another accountable. "

"When my husband, Dave, passed away last spring, my whole notion of plans crumpled," she continued. "I stopped trying to meditate, but my connection to this group of friends was one of the things that helped pull me through."

Sandberg, the Chief Operating Office of Facebook, is the author of Lean In, and one of the founders of the Lean In movement. The movement includes thousands of followers, many of whom participate in Lean In Circles -- which are small, local groups of people that come together to help and support each other.

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In her essay, Sandberg expresses her excitement for the popularity and proliferation of Lean In Circles across the country, and credits the members of her Circle for helping her through the incredibly difficult ordeal of her husband's untimely death in May.

"They checked in daily. Even though they live across the country, they showed up early and often," Sandberg said of her friends in the Circle. "They did not just hold me as I cried—they cried with me."

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Sandberg's husband, Dave Goldberg, died during a family vacation at a villa near Puerto Vallarta, Mexico on May 1. He fell while exercising on a treadmill, and struck his head, causing fatal head trauma and blood loss. Goldberg was 47.

"When I first lost Dave, I felt overwhelmed with just getting through each day," Sandberg wrote. "My friend [Adam Grant] suggested that every night before bed I write down three things I did well that day. I tried to do this, although some days I had such a hard time thinking of anything I did well that I’d end up listing 'Made a cup of tea.' But over time, focusing on things I’d done well helped me rebuild my confidence. Even if it was small, I could record something positive each day."

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According to Sandberg, her New Year’s resolution for 2016 is to continue this habit of recording three joyful, positive moments every single day.

"I want to choose life and meaning over death and tragedy," she continued. "So I will try to focus on finding joy in the mundane and the profound -- joy in the small things that make my children smile, joy in the moments of friendship that might otherwise pass by unnoticed, joy in the ability to appreciate the gift of life in a way I never did before."

"My wish to everyone is for a joyful new year. May you find the Circle that supports you—and cherish the moments of joy in each day," Sandberg concluded her essay.

New Year’s is the traditional time of rebirth, renewal, and resolutions. This year, New Year’s has more meaning for me...

Posted by Sheryl Sandberg onTuesday, December 29, 2015

In July, the 46-year-old Facebook exec wrote an open letter about the many things she's discovered about life, tragedy and pain in the wake of her husband's sudden death.

"I think when tragedy occurs, it presents a choice. You can give in to the void, the emptiness that fills your heart, your lungs, constricts your ability to think or even breathe. Or you can try to find meaning," Sandberg wrote in her open letter earlier this year. "I have spent many of my moments lost in that void. And 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."