Sheryl Sandberg reveals the heartbreaking moment she found her husband Dave Goldberg dead in a hotel gym, as she publishes a new book on grief.
“The last thing I ever said to [my husband] was, ‘I’m falling asleep,’ ” The Facebook COO writes in Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, which she co-wrote with psychologist and friend Adam Grant. She and Goldberg were in Mexico to celebrate a friend’s birthday. Sandberg fell asleep while the group played a game on their iPads, but when she woke up an hour later Goldberg was missing.
According to Sandberg, she alerted her friends and they all raced to the gym.
“We found Dave on the floor, lying by the elliptical machine, his face slightly blue and turned to the left, a small pool of blood under his head,” she writes. “We all screamed. I started CPR. Rob took over from me. A doctor came and took over from him.”
Much later in the hospital, Goldberg’s death was confirmed. According to Edgar Veytia, the attorney general for the Mexican state of Nayarit, the 47-year-old died of heart-related causes.
Sandberg recalls saying goodbye to Dave for the last time.
“When his brother Rob, in shock himself, said we had to go, I took a few steps out of the room, then turned around and ran back in, hugging Dave as hard as I could,” she writes. “Eventually, Rob lovingly pulled me off Dave’s body.”
“Things will never be the same,” Sandberg, now 47, wrote in a Facebook post a few days after his death. “But the world is better for the years my beloved husband lived.
“We had 11 truly joyful years of the deepest love, happiest marriage, and truest partnership that I could imagine…” she continued. “He gave me the experience of being deeply understood, truly supported and completely and utterly loved – and I will carry that with me always. Most importantly, he gave me the two most amazing children in the world.”
Their two young children were as deeply affected as their mother by Goldberg’s death. In Option B, Sandberg describes attending the funeral with her family. Her children “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,” she writes.
“Day after day my kids’ cries and screams filled the air. In the moments when they weren’t crying, I watched them anxiously, waiting for the next instance they might need comfort,” she adds. “My own cries and screams — mostly inside my head but some out loud — filled the rest of the available space.”
A few weeks after Goldberg’s passing, Sandberg began communicating with the co-author of her yet-to-be-written book, Adam Grant. She writes that she told him “my greatest fear was that my kids would never be happy again.”
Grant helped her find a way to move past her incapacitating grief, which evolved into the book.
“I thought resilience was the capacity to endure pain, so I asked Adam how I could figure out how much I had,” she writes. “He explained that our amount of resilience isn’t fixed, so I should be asking instead how I could become resilient. Resilience is the strength and speed of our response to adversity — and we can build it.”
Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy releases on April 24.