This morning, Facebook COO and Lean In author Sheryl Sandberg appeared on The TODAY Show to talk Facebook's 2015 Year In Review (the company's look back at what it calls the "most-talked about topics of the year") and to reflect on a devastating event in her own life earlier in 2015: the sudden death of her husband, SurveyMonkey CEO David Goldberg. Goldberg was only 47 years old when he slipped on a treadmill during a family vacation to Mexico in May and sustained a fatal brain injury. A month after his passing (the end of the 30-day Jewish period of mourning known as sheloshim), Sandberg took to Facebook to share a moving tribute to her husband. "If the day I walked down that aisle with Dave someone had told me that this would happen," she wrote, "I would still have walked down that aisle. Because 11 years of being Dave Goldberg’s wife, and 10 years of being a parent with him is perhaps more luck and more happiness than I could have ever imagined."
In her interview this morning, Sandberg emphasized Facebook's power to connect users across cultural and geographic lines. She pointed out that 26 million people used the platform's profile-picture rainbow filter to show support for marriage equality; plus, six million Americans have come out on Facebook, and that number is now three times what it was one year ago. Sandberg also discussed the personal support she received after her public post about her late husband. "I wasn't sure if I was going to post it, but I did," she said. "I lost my husband tragically and suddenly. That's a horrible thing to live through, and it's also a pretty isolating thing to live through... No one quite knows what to say." When Sandberg aired how she was feeling and how she hoped others would relate to her, she added that "it changed a lot. People knew what to say, people started talking to me more openly, and even strangers... Loss, and then trying to rebuild and resilience, is such a huge part of the human condition, and by using it and sharing on Facebook, I felt part of that global community." "As I look to the new year, and my children and I have worked so hard to rebuild our lives and find happiness and joy and gratitude again, I think the support of strangers and our friends made a huge difference," Sandberg concluded. "I always loved Facebook's mission, but now I feel even closer to it in, I think, a much deeper and more profound way."