7 Grief Lessons from "Option B" that you can pass onto your families... [part 2]
4. Post traumatic growth is possible- Sandberg writes that after a trauma or tragedy there are several whose lives move forward – she calls it bouncing forward or post-traumatic growth. Her co-author, Grant, notes that at least half the people experiencing a tragedy report some sort of positive outcome. The five keys to post traumatic growth are: finding personal strength, gaining appreciation, forming deeper relationships, discovering more meaning in life, and seeing new possibilities.
5. Kids are more resilient than adults – Sheryl two children will very young when their father passed away. She employed a variety exercises to help them in their grief process, but always let them have their space to also grieve independently. One exercise she used was setting up a new internal family rule system that set boundaries for each member of the family. It allowed for “cry breaks”, jealousy of friends and family members who still had their fathers, put out there that it is okay to be happy and laugh, encouraged respect for each other’s feelings, and more. They practiced other grief exercises that helped them, as a familial team, move through the process.
Sandberg exercised her own self compassion in admitting that these new family rules and exercises didn’t work every single day and there are certain days that she and/or the kids broke their own rules. However, it she says it played a tremendous role in letting each individual heal quicker. She notes that we can help kids build resiliency through helping them understand: they have some control over their lives, they can learn from failure, they matter as human beings, and they have their own strengths to rely on and share. Seeing her kids starting to return to some normalcy – laughing, playing, and being with friends again fueled Sandberg’s own healing.
6. Failure is the biggest learning opportunity of all – “To be resilient after failures, we have to learn from them. Most of the time, we know this; we just don’t do it. We’re to insecure to admit our mistakes to ourselves or too proud to admit them to others.” She cites an example of a team building exercise in Quantico with the Marine Corps. whereby after they failed as a team, the Marine Corps. took the time to review and reflect on the failure – they do this with every mission, thus making them stronger and more resilient in the future.
7. Loving and Laughing Again is Okay – When one loses a spouse or a partner, there are so many emotions. There are also so many philosophies on what is appropriate, and what is not. Is it okay to make a joke? Will I ever make a joke about my loved one? Should I start dating? When is too soon? Should I remarry? She notes that “Humor makes us more resilient,” and goes on to add, “Evolutionarily, humor is a signal that a situation is safe. Laughing breaks tension by making stressful situations less threatening.”
The most tender topic that Sandberg covers in the entire book is finding love again. She writes, “People who have lost a spouse feel enough grief and guilt on their own. Judging them makes those feelings feel worse. It’s kinder to see dating not as a betrayal but as an attempt for them to break through the sorrow and find some joy.” She adds, “Dating does not erase my grief. All of us in the club understand this. You can miss your spouse and be with someone else, especially if that person is secure enough to let you grieve and help you through it.”
There is not a way I can begin to create a conclusion to this post that summarizes all the thoughts that Sandberg and Grant have put forth in Option B. However, I think the best way to do it is to take a quote from the beginning, one from the middle, and one from the end of the book.
Sandberg starts off the book, and I started off this post with her quote, “Grief is a demanding companion.” In the middle of the book, her own post traumatic growth begins to bloom as she writes, “We find humanity – our will to live and our ability to love in our connections to one another.” And at the end of the book, her post-traumatic growth flourishes as she writes, “Tragedy does not have to be personal, pervasive, or permanent, but resilience can be. We can build it and carry it with us throughout our lives.”