her husband died suddenly two years ago, Sheryl Sandberg
was transformed by her grief.
am a different person. I am sadder," said Sandberg,
Facebook’s chief operating officer and co-author of
"Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience,
and Finding Joy" (Knopf).
I am also more grateful, more alive, more joyful, more
appreciative than I ever thought I would be."
husband, SurveyMonkey CEO Dave Goldberg, died on the
treadmill of a heart arrhythmia at age 47 while the two
were vacationing in Mexico in May 2015. Sandberg
unexpectedly became a widow and single mother of their
two children, then ages 7 and 10.
was a person I always turned to who told me it would be
OK," said Sandberg, 47. "And then one day out
of absolutely nowhere, he wasn’t there. And that’s
where this journey starts."
book’s title refers to a quote from a friend who
comforted Sandberg when she was longing for her husband.
"Option A is not available," he said, and
encouraged her to make the most of Option B.
offered anecdotes and advice from the past two years,
moving the audience to laughter and tears.
describing how she collapsed while sobbing on a dance
floor after a moment of happiness, she reminded the
audience to allow themselves to feel happy after moments
of sadness. "Push away the guilt and look for the
joy," she said.
book weaves together her personal experience with
research from her close friend and co-author, Wharton
organizational psychologist Adam Grant. The book’s
overall thrust: to build resilience before and after
is a muscle that can be trained, Sandberg said, and she
offered techniques she learned from her own grief. She
suggested writing letters to yourself as if writing to a
friend in order to remove self-blame.
say things to ourselves all day that we’d never say to
our worst enemy," Sandberg said.
also cautioned against permanence — believing the
feeling would never end — and pervasiveness —
failing to see how things could be worse.
first best-selling book, "Lean In: Women, Work, and
the Will to Lead," included a chapter titled,
"Make your partner a real partner."
the talk, Sandberg discussed how her views on that
chapter have evolved. At the time, single mothers
criticized her for being out of touch with their lives.
Sandberg said she did not fully understand the
difficulties of raising a family without a partner.
"We do not do enough to help single moms," she
of Sandberg’s goals in writing "Option B"
was to "take the elephants out of the room,"
and make grieving less isolating. She encouraged people
to talk with those who were going through hardship
rather than stay silent for fear of saying the wrong
silence is not protecting them, it’s protecting
you," she said.
also shared stories of loss and growth from other women
who had dealt with abuse, death of family members and
other hardships, in part to demonstrate how adversity is
something that everyone experiences to some degree.
of the prompts for "Option B" was an
outpouring of support Sandberg received after her
Facebook post 30 days after her husband’s death went
viral. She recounted how a friend who had been driving
past her house daily finally came to her door in
response to her post.
hoping that Option B helps us show up for each
other," Sandberg said.