On May 1, 2015, while vacationing in Mexico, the husband of Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer of Facebook, died suddenly while exercising. Dave Goldberg was just 47. An autopsy, Sandberg says, showed that he died of coronary heart disease and had a cardiac arrhythmia.
Then known for her bestselling 2013 book “Lean In,” which urged women in the workplace to stand up for themselves, Sandberg unexpectedly found herself confronting her toughest challenge, as a single mother of two young children.
“My rabbi told me to ‘lean into the suck,’” Sandberg tells Norah O’Donnell in an interview to air on CBS’ “Sunday Morning” April 23. “And I thought, ‘That is not what I meant when I said lean in.’ But it was really good advice. Because what he was telling me [was], ‘This is going to suck. Don’t fight it.’”
In an emotional and wide-ranging interview, Sandberg talks with O’Donnell (co-host of “CBS This Morning”) about breaking the news of their father’s death to her children and how they worked together to move forward after the loss. She also talks about coping with grief and the other life lessons she explores in her new book, “Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy,” co-written with friend and psychologist Adam Grant.
Grant, she tells O’Donnell, also helped her find things to be grateful for in the aftermath of her husband’s death. “So one thing that happened is, Adam one day said to me, ‘It could be way worse.’ And I looked at him like, ‘Are you crazy? I just lost my husband suddenly, how could it be worse?’ And he said, ‘Dave could’ve had that same cardiac arrhythmia driving your children,’” Sandberg says.
O’Donnell first sat down with Sandberg, along with her husband, four years ago for “60 Minutes” in what turned out to be their only joint television interview. It was clear then how much Sandberg relied on Goldberg.
“When I wrote ‘Lean In’, I hadn’t really ever thought enough about what it was to be a single parent,” Sandberg tells O’Donnell now. “I don’t think I got it. Being a single mother, even for me with all the resources I have, is much harder than I ever imagined.”
Sandberg also talks with O’Donnell about finding the strength to laugh again. “I’ve had to work hard at finding laughter,” she said. “Even jokes early on made me kind of gasp in shock like, ‘Oh my God, I just made a joke.’ I was watching TV early on with my sister-in-law, and I kind of blurted out, ‘Well, at least I don’t have to watch Dave’s bad TV shows anymore.’ And then I just froze in horror, like, Oh my God… But then we laughed!”