Sheryl Sandberg and her husband David Goldberg left their young children with her parents for the weekend while they headed away to a private villa in Mexico. They were planning on celebrating the milestone birthday of one of their closest friends. There are times that things tragically don’t go according to plans.
The last time Sheryl remembers seeing her husband of eleven years occurred when she was by the pool and he informed her that he was heading to the resort’s fitness centre for a workout. When he failed to return to their room hours later, panic set in. She frantically ran to the gym, and that’s where she found him. He was lying on the floor, beside the elliptical machine, in a small pool of blood. At first, it was believed that he fell off the machine. After further investigation, it was discovered that he had suffered a cardiac arrhythmia. He was dead at 47 years of age.
David Goldberg and Sheryl Sandberg were married for 11 years. They were considered a power couple. He was an executive. She continues to be the chief operating officer of Facebook. The affluence and accolades did not shield their family from loss and tragedy.
Option B is written by Sandberg and co-authored with Adam Grant, who is her friend, psychologist and expert in the field of human resilience. It is the story of how Sandberg was involuntarily made a member of a club. A club, she writes, no one wants to be a part of.
The author recounts with vivid detail the heart wrenching emotions that she experienced. Her emotions and writing are raw. Her biggest fear was twofold: telling the children, aged 7 and 10, that their father was dead, and that they would never feel joy again. Sandberg writes honestly about her loss of confidence; her anger, which scared her and almost debilitated her; and imbalance of life. She recounts what carried her and her children through this time of darkness and despair. She was surrounded by loved ones, friends, and family. Her brother called her every night for six months to comfort her. Her mother and sister came over to help look after the children and look after her, even lying in bed beside her and holding her as she cried herself to sleep. She acknowledged that she hated to ask for help and needing help, even though it was vital for her to go on. Sandberg worried that she would be considered a burden as she depended on so many for help.
Although the book is primarily her story of the death of her husband, it also chronicles the stories of ordinary people, some well-known, who have suffered individually and corporately. There are many stories about resilience after the loss of jobs, relationships and health.
One highlight of the book is the information the author offers to those who comfort the grieved. The question “How are you?” can literally feel like a punch to someone already in severe pain. The author suggests asking “How are you today?” She admonishes family and friends to be present, and reminding and reassuring the grieving that they are not alone. Instead of asking “How can I help?” say “I will bring dinner.”
Sheryl Sandberg’s book is a gift for those who have suffered loss and those who comfort. The book is informative, inspirational and challenges the reader to make a choice when adversity