Every Wednesday

Every other Wednesday, I will post a reflection on the landscape of grief. This blog isn't just for widowers. It's for everyone who grieves. I want to encourage people to share their stories and compassion with each other, build up a community of support, and help everyone understand the trauma that death brings.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Moving On

This is the second part of my thoughts on the book, Option B, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant.

When grievers feel ready to move on and want ideas for how, Sheryl and Adam’s book is quite helpful. It’s easy to read, informative, personal, engaging, and encouraging. I generally wouldn’t recommend it, though, for the first year of grief.

When we can reframe a moment, then we take control of it. (p. 108)

The authors say that when our planned Option A is no longer possible, look for Option B. I imagine there are also Options C and D if B doesn’t work out. The point is that if we can’t have our first choice, there are still other things in life that we would like. Each chapter presents a step you can take, and provides the research and the experiences of others to bring that concept to life.

“The disappearance of one possible self can free us to imagine a new possible self.” (p. 91)

This is also partially a memoir. The heart-rending stories of Sheryl Sandberg’s early struggles with grief, the shock, chaos, and despair, are honest, and they appear throughout the book. She shares an experience from her grieving, then steps back and says what she learned from it, like “Grief has to unfold.” (p. 175).

Every day is a new day and we have choices. We can choose to continue doing what we’ve been doing, or we can choose to go in a new direction. While some things can’t be changed, other things can. The future is not set in stone, as we have learned.

If you feel battered down and stuck in a situation, acknowledge your emotions and find what helps you today. Find the people who are supportive of how you’re feeling. Take a step forward today. Take another step tomorrow. This builds hope on a foundation that is real, and not just wishful thinking.

Having hope for the future makes a big difference. (p. 128)

The authors share four core beliefs that we can teach children (as well as ourselves): 1-you have some control over your life, 2-you can learn from failure, 3-you matter as a human being, 4-you have real strengths to rely on and share with others. (p. 111)

When we’re grieving, it’s tremendously hard to go from Option A to Option B mostly because we don’t want to. We don’t want to let go of Option A, because to go on with our lives feels like a betrayal of our loved ones. There comes a time, though, when we know that we have to move on. Even when we know that our loved ones would want us to be happy again, it’s still not easy. When we finally feel ready to take those first shaky steps, this is when Sheryl and Adam’s book is helpful.

Given Sandberg and Grant’s business backgrounds, and their focus on success coming from working in cooperation with others, it’s not surprising that this book is not the product of two people, but the result of a team of people and researchers. At the end of the book there are five pages of thank-yous.

This is how we survive grief – with a community of support.

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