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September 25, 2017

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Sheryl Sandberg picks 'Option B' in her new book

By Barbara Ortutay -- Though perhaps best known as Facebook's No. 2 executive, Sheryl Sandberg is also a mentor, a mother, a billionaire and an author. When her husband Dave Goldberg died suddenly in 2015 while they were vacationing in Mexico, she added "widow" to the list.

"The grief felt like a void, like it was sucking me in and pushing on me, pulling me in and I couldn't even see or breathe," she said in an interview with The Associated Press. "People who have been through things like this told me it gets better. And I really didn't believe them ... I want other people going through things to believe it does get better."

Her new book — "Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy," written with psychologist Adam Grant — chronicles the devastating loss, her grief and how she emerged from it with a new perspective on life. A humbled follow-up to her first book, "Lean In," it's also a how-to, drawing from studies and the experiences of others to describe techniques for building strength and resilience and ways to support those going through hard times.

Sandberg also uses the new book to address what she now sees as shortcomings in the career advice she offered women in "Lean In." Surveying the world as a wealthy corporate executive rendered her oblivious to the circumstances faced by less fortunate women, she acknowledged. Not everyone can lean in; not everyone wants to.

The First Months

The most affecting parts of the book recount not just Sandberg's grief, but that of her children. When she had to tell them that their father died. When, arriving at the cemetery for his funeral, they "got out of the car and fell to the ground, unable to take another step. I lay on the grass, holding them as they wailed," unable to protect them from their sorrow.

It did get better, though slowly. Sandberg returned to work at Facebook in a haze, unable to summon her previous self-confidence.

"I couldn't understand when friends didn't ask me how I was. I felt invisible, as if I was standing in front of them but they couldn't see me," she writes, adding later, that by staying silent in such situations "we often isolate friends, family and co-workers."

At Facebook, Sandberg has long been an advocate of "bringing your whole self to work," meaning a willingness to share your personal life with co-workers. But this can get tricky when it comes to facing trauma. Sandberg found it difficult, and even considered carrying around a stuffed pachyderm to encourage co-workers and even friends to talk about the "elephant in the room."

Picking up the Pieces

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