NEW YORK – A few weeks after her husband died, Sheryl Sandberg was talking with a friend about finding someone to fill in for a father-child activity. Crying, the No. 2 Facebook executive told the friend, "But I want Dave." He put his arm around her and said, "Option A is not available. So let's just kick the s--- out of Option B."
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Sandberg's new book , "Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy," chronicles her grief and road to recovery and resilience. Option B, or C, and so on, might not be what we choose. But Sandberg is a firm believer in pre-traumatic growth — that is, people's ability to build up resilience before something bad happens so that they are able to cope with it better.
Below are some excerpts from the book, which was written with psychologist Adam Grant and was published on Monday.
"I don't know anyone who has been handed only roses. We all encounter hardships. Some we see coming; others take us by surprise. It can be as tragic as the sudden death of a child, as heartbreaking as a relationship that unravels, or as disappointing as a dream that goes unfulfilled. The question is: When these things happen, what do we do next?"
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"I got emails from friends asking me to fly to their cities to speak at events without acknowledging that travel might be more difficult for me now. Oh, it's just an overnight? Sure, I'll see if Dave can come back to life and put the kids to bed.
"I ran into friends at local parks who talked about the weather. Yes! The weather has been weird with all this rain and death."
AT A LOSS
"When a loved one dies, we expect to be sad. We expect to be angry. What we don't see coming — or at least I didn't — is that trauma can also lead to self-doubt in all aspects of our lives. This loss of confidence is another symptom of pervasiveness: we are struggling in one area and suddenly we stop believing in our capabilities in other areas."
ON SINGLE PARENTS
"I will never experience or fully understand the challenges many single moms face. Although odds are stacked against them, they do everything they can to raise incredible children. To try to make ends meet, many have more than one job — not including the job of being a mother. And high-quality child care is often prohibitively expensive."
TELLING THE KIDS
"My son immediately realized something was wrong. 'Why are you home?" he asked. "And where is Dad?" We all sat down on the couch with my parents and my sister. My heart was pounding so loudly that I could barely hear my own voice. With my father's strong arm around my shoulder, trying to protect me as he always has, I found the courage to speak: 'I have terrible news. Terrible. Daddy died.'
"The screaming and crying that followed haunt me to this day — primal screams and cries that echoed the ones in my heart. Nothing has come close to the pain of this moment."
LEARNING FROM FAILING
"When it's safe to talk about mistakes, people are more likely to report errors and less likely to make them. Yet typical work cultures showcase successes and hide failures. Just look at any resume; I have never seen one with a section called Things I Do Poorly."
ON HER HUSBAND
"At Dave's funeral, I said that if on the day I walked down the aisle with him, someone had told me that we would have just eleven years together, I would still have walked down that aisle. Eleven years of being Dave's wife and ten years of being a parent with him is perhaps more luck and more happiness than I could ever have imagined."