While some take up the mantle of solo parenting as a choice, others find themselves raising kids on their own because of unforeseen circumstances or factors that may be beyond their control.
It's the circumstance Facebook's chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg found herself in when her husband Dave Goldberg suddenly passed away a year ago. In her commencement speech to the 2016 graduates of the University of California Berkeley, she shared how she soldiered on after suddenly finding herself a single parent.
"When life sucks you under, you can kick against the bottom, find the surface and breathe again," she said. It was the first time Sandberg, who is also the co-author of Lean In, a book that sparked heated discussions about a mother's work/life balance, publicly spoke about her tragedy. It struck a chord beyond the university walls, resonating among those who have experienced unexpected, often painful, turn of events in their lives.
In a previous article, a single parent discussed and stressed that finding meaning and acceptance is the first step to taking on the role of single parenting. But exactly how can you do that? Sandberg enumerate the things that helped her frame her mind and bounce back from hardship.
1 You are not at fault "This is different from taking responsibility, which you should always do. This is the lesson that not everything that happens to us happens because of us," Sandberg explains. In other words, stop blaming yourself. There is little point to thinking over what you could have or should have done. You need to accept that there are just some things that are out of your control, and there's no way you could have predicted them. "Not taking failure personally allows us to recover and even to thrive," she adds. It allows you to have something tangible to alter or change for the better.
2 Everything in life is not bad Sandberg told the story of how she and her kids went back to their daily routine just ten days after her husband's death. Even though it was hard to make sense of everything else because of grief, the brief moment she got drawn into a board meeting conversation "helped me see that there were other things in my life that were not awful." That untoward event that happened in your life is not all encompassing. Even after a tragedy, there is something good in your life. Focus on the good, and you'll see that things can get better.
3 Being sad is not forever "We should accept our feelings, but know that they will not last forever," Sandberg explains, admitting that for so long, she felt that the sadness and grief would stay with her forever. Feelings aren't permanent; it comes in waves. Losing a loved one or having a failed relationship sticks with you forever. But allow yourself to feel sad AND happy even after grief.
4 Thankfulness is greater than grief A negative event can turn one's life upside down, but it can also shift one's outlook in life to a more positive one. "Finding gratitude and appreciation is key to resilience. People who take the time to list things they are grateful for are happier and healthier. It turns out that counting your blessings can actually increase your blessings," Sandberg says. Choose to be thankful even during the hard times when finding that little joys is more challenging than ever.
5 You can move forward "We are more vulnerable than we ever thought, but we are stronger than we ever imagined," Sandberg said. You might think this sort of thing does not happen to you, and you cannot imagine how you could move on. The truth is you can, and it's up to you how. She stresses, "Like a muscle, you can build it up, draw on it when you need it. In that process you will figure out who you really are—and you just might become the very best version of yourself."
You can listen and watch Sheryl Sandberg's very moving speech here.