When Sheryl Sandberg’s husband, Silicon Valley executive Dave Goldberg, died unexpectedly in May 2015, the Facebook COO says she joined a club “no one wants to join“—widows. And while there is a shared sense of heartbreak among the group, Sandberg explains, there is also a shared sense of support and understanding.
Sandberg found solace in one of the club’s most famous members: Yahoo Global News anchor Katie Couric, who lost her first husband, Jay Monahan, to colon cancer in 1998.
Sandberg’s new book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, co-authored with bestselling author and professor Adam Grant and released Monday, describes her and her young children’s evolution after Goldberg’s death, incorporating advice and research on building resilience.
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Couric interviewed Grant and Sandberg on Sunday at an event at 92nd Street Y in New York City. Sandberg opened the discussion with an anecdote, which is also in the book, about how, shortly after Goldberg’s death, she received a letter from an acquaintance who had just been widowed in her sixties, who told her that time won’t lessen the pain of the loss. “Try as I might, I can’t come up with a single thing that I know will help you,” the acquaintance wrote.
Looking for reassurance that she would eventually begin to heal, Sandberg said she turned to two people: Couric and Grant.
“You jumped in and kept telling me it would get better—and you were more credible because you had been through it,” Sandberg told Couric, emphasizing how she relied on Couric’s advice and friendship throughout the grieving process.
Although the majority of the conversation focused on Sandberg, Grant, and the contents of the book, the two women did discuss the challenges of single-parenting, in particular their dislike for father-daughter dances at their children’s respective schools.
At a couple points in the conversation, when Couric was questioning Sandberg about the death of her husband, she accidentally substituted Goldberg’s name with the name of her husband, Jay.
“I’m sorry, I keep doing that,” Couric said.
Sandberg told her she had nothing to apologize for.
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