sheryl sandberg the lead
Sandberg opens up about husband's death
02:01 - Source: CNN
CNN  — 

Nearly two years ago, Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg received a new role – one no one would sign up for: widow.

Now she’s trying to help people who have experienced a loss around the grieving with her new book “Option B.”

“Going through this … it’s the unimaginable. Those early days … months, weeks, I felt like there was this void closing in on me. The grief. I couldn’t breathe. And I didn’t know what to do. I turned to my friend Adam and I said, ‘How do I get my kids through this?’ Because I was so worried their childhoods were going to be wiped away,” Sandberg told CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper” on Tuesday.

Sandberg said if her book can help anyone who is also facing a hardship, “It honors the life [Dave] led. And like so many people who have lost someone, I want his memory to stay alive.”

Dave Goldberg was just 47 when he passed away while the couple was on vacation in Mexico. The tech entrepreneur had been exercising when he fell. An autopsy later revealed the cause of his death was a coronary arrhythmia, a symptom of his undiagnosed coronary artery disease.

Tapper choked up as he read a passage Sandberg wrote about telling her children they had lost their father: “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.”

Sandberg said the loss has given her children perspective. After her son’s team lost a recent basketball game, many children were crying. Her son told her he would be fine.

“Kids are resilient. My kids are resilient. My kids have faced horrible trauma. There are so many kids in this country growing up in poverty, facing very, very hard challenges. … We need resilience for all of them.”

Sandberg recounted an especially hard day for her as she was attending her son’s music concert and saw all the other fathers watching their children play. It was a cold reminder that Dave wasn’t coming back. The day wasn’t over, as Sandberg was expected to host an important dinner for Facebook at her home later that night. She was upstairs hysterically crying as her son came in and said, “Mommy, they’re here.” She told him she couldn’t go downstairs, and couldn’t stop crying. She recounted her son saying, “Mom, you should just go downstairs. They all know what happened to us. It’s OK. And I bet they have things that they cry about, too.”

CORRECTION: This story has been updated to correctly identify Sandberg’s late husband, Dave Goldberg.