While we were away this week I started reading Sheryl Sandberg’s most recent book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. For those of you who don’t know, Sheryl Sandberg lost her husband, Dave, very suddenly last year. Two weeks after his death, Sheryl was preparing for a father-child activity at her daughter’s school. “I want Dave”, she cried to her friend. He replied “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of Option B”.
What I’ve read of the book so far has been brilliant, and it provides some very useful strategies for dealing with grief and other hardships in our life that can test our resilience.
It’s been making me think a lot about the ways in which I’ve been trying to kick the shit out of option B in the past year. About the things that have helped me keep getting up every morning, putting on a strong face and making the most of life.
I’ve come to realise recently that we are all going to face some sort of adversity in our lives. Up until last summer, I don’t think I quite believed that was true. I was naive enough to think that if you planned well enough, worked hard enough and made the right decisions, you could make it through life relatively unscathed.
But recent events have taught me that actually, none of us know what’s around the corner, and it’s incredibly unlikely that anybody makes it to their death bed without facing some difficult challenges in their life. Hardship is just part of the human condition.
It could be illness or redundancy. It could be a personal crisis or mental health struggles or the breakdown of a relationship. It could be grief. Regardless, we’re all bound to be in a position one day where option A is no longer available to us. And when that happens, all we can do is make the absolute best of option B.
And that’s something I’ve been trying my bloody hardest to do recently. Option A disappeared for my family and I 14 months ago, and we’ve experienced plenty of difficult times since then. But we’ve also been kicking the shit out of option B too, because we owe it to Blossom to do that.
We’ve started a charity in her memory – a real life, fully registered charity, that in less than a year has raised over £20,000 to help raise awareness of water safety and improve survival skills in young children. A charity that will continue to thrive and to help prevent other families from going through the hardships and pain that we have had to endure.
We’ve become closer as a family, even closer than we already were. It’s like we’re cemented together even more, like those family bonds we share are now set in stone. We know how to hold each other up better and we appreciate each other more.
And from a personal perspective, perhaps the biggest way I’ve been kicking the shit out of option B is by no longer taking this life for granted. I celebrate all of the little moments as well as the big ones. I realise how lucky I am to laugh and love and create memories with the people I care about. I’m grateful for this time I have and I’m adamant about making the absolute most of it.
None of these outcomes are as good as option A. We will forever feel cheated that Blossom is no longer here with us. But I reckon we’re doing a bloody good job of kicking the shit out of option B, and I think she’d be pretty proud of us for that.