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Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy

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From Facebook’s COO and Wharton’s top-rated professor, the #1 New York Times best-selling authors of Lean In and Originals: a powerful, inspiring, and practical book about building resilience and moving forward after life’s inevitable setbacks.

After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. “I was in ‘the void,’” she writes, “a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.” Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences. We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build.
Option B combines Sheryl’s personal insights with Adam’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity. Beginning with the gut-wrenching moment when she finds her husband, Dave Goldberg, collapsed on a gym floor, Sheryl opens up her heart—and her journal—to describe the acute grief and isolation she felt in the wake of his death. But Option B goes beyond Sheryl’s loss to explore how a broad range of people have overcome hardships including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war. Their stories reveal the capacity of the human spirit to persevere . . . and to rediscover joy.
Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. Even after the most devastating events, it is possible to grow by finding deeper meaning and gaining greater appreciation in our lives. Option B illuminates how to help others in crisis, develop compassion for ourselves, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to everyday struggles, allowing us to brave whatever lies ahead. Two weeks after losing her husband, Sheryl was preparing for a father-child activity. “I want Dave,” she cried. Her friend replied, “Option A is not available,” and then promised to help her make the most of Option B.
We all live some form of Option B. This book will help us all make the most of it.

240 pages, Paperback

First published April 24, 2017

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Profile Image for Rebecca Eisenberg.
350 reviews23 followers
December 18, 2017
Sheryl Sandberg lost her husband, and that is very sad, and is a tragedy that no one deserves. Also, SS learned how to gain resilience and re-find joy, which is fantastic, and I know we all wish for her. That said, the advice she offers in this book does not seem relevant or helpful to almost anyone but Sheryl Sandberg (with the possible exception of other billionaire celebrities with limitless job security and financial resources). For example, in this book, SS recommends the following:

1. It's ok to cry at work. [For everyone but SS, it is NOT ok to cry at work.]
2. It's ok to cry when hosting a dinner party for your employer's "most important" customers. [NO, it is not ok.]
3. Falling asleep at a meeting is a sign of progress, meaning that you no longer are crying and/or thinking only about your personal tragedy. [No.]
4. Because most companies fail due to problems that were known but not addressed, it is a good idea to tell your boss what he/she is doing wrong. [A. It is not clear what this has to do with the subject of the book, and B. No, unless you want to be fired.]
5. If you have lost your lease or mortgage due to the death of a spouse, and now you are homeless, confidence and a positive attitude will get you through. [No specific details offered how that works exactly.]
6. After tragedy, try to get back to your regular routine, e.g. traveling internationally with your extended family and friends, and meeting with famous people in India and China [that probably won't be helpful to most people].
7. Most of all, make sure that everyone in your life -- your parents, siblings, in-laws, friends, co-workers, and bosses -- are supportive and perfect, and definitely not crazy [How? How?].

With a somber tone, SS describes how the majority of widows face significant financial challenges from the death of their husbands. Many lose their leases or mortgages; many enter poverty. SS has no suggestions for those millions of women. Rather, she notes, she is blessed that she does not have those problems.

Similarly, SS recommends finding a new love interest in order to find joy. This advice, also, fails to address the financial context of many marriages -- the way that financial dependence on a deceased husband often leads to financial dependence in remarriage.

Truly, my heart does go out to SS for the loss of her husband. This kind of loss is monumental and life-altering. I do not deny the reality of her pain and suffering.

That said, I think that this book has a very narrow target audience. I am not poor by any means, yet her experience lacks any similarity with those of my best friends who lost their husbands over the past 3 years (unfortunately, 3 of them). In the case of the widows in my life -- which meshes with statistics nationally and internationally -- all of the women were forced to grieve without having the luxury of taking any kind of break from work or family responsibilities. In fact, all 3 had to move to different homes, had to turn to friends and family to pay down significant debt, and had to sell belongings and take on additional work hours to resolve financial crisis. Even though all of their husbands died a longer time ago then SS's did, none have had time to date, and none otherwise have found joy.

Sadly, the cold hard truth is that for the vast number of people who experience the loss of a spouse, resilience alone does not provide relief. Perhaps the moral of this book is that money buys happiness -- or, at least, being a billionaire does. Although there must be other routes to joy, I don't think you will find the answers in this book.
Profile Image for Dr. Appu Sasidharan (Dasfill).
1,271 reviews2,445 followers
September 3, 2023
This is a book written by Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook’s COO) about how she and her family coped up with the loss of her husband, Dave.

Why should you read this book?
If you find any of the topics discussed below interesting, I recommend you to read this book.

Three P’s that stunt recovery from setbacks
* Personalization- The belief that we are at fault
* Pervasiveness- The belief that affect all areas of our life
* Permanence- The belief that aftershocks of the event will last forever.

The first noble truth of Buddhism
The first noble truth of Buddhism is that all life involves suffering. Ageing, sickness and loss are inevitable

Cultural pressure to conceal negative emotions
In China and Japan, the ideal emotional state is calm and composed. In the USA, people like excitement (OMG!) and enthusiasm(LOL!). As Psychologist David Carisa observes, American culture demands that the answer to the question ‘How are you?’ Is not just ‘Good’.... We need to be ‘Awesome’.

How we should deal with patients recently diagnosed with diseases like Cancer
Writer Emily McDowell said the worst part of being diagnosed with lymphoma wasn’t feeling sick from chemo or losing her hair. “It was the loneliness and isolation I felt when many of my close friends and family members disappeared because they didn’t know what to say, or said the absolute wrong thing without realizing it.”In response, Emily created “empathy cards.”

The worst thing people could say to a cancer patient is, “It’s going to be okay.” The better way to tell according to Sheryl is, “I know you don’t know yet what will happen- and neither do I, But you won’t go through this alone. I will be there with you every step of the way.”

The most powerful thing you can do to a person who faced tragedy is to acknowledge it. To literally say the words; I acknowledge your pain. I am here with you.

Golden rule and platinum rule of friendship
The Golden rule of friendship is to treat others as you want to be treated. But when someone is suffering, instead of following the Golden rule, we need to follow the Platinum Rule, which is to treat others as they want to be treated. Take a cue from the person in distress and respond with understanding- or better yet, action.

Are five stages of grief real?
According to Psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, in the face of loss, we will go through five stages of grief.

We are supposed to start in denial and move to anger, then to bargaining and depression. Only after we pass through these four stages can we find acceptance. But now experts realize that these are not five stages. They are five states that don’t progress in a linear fashion but rise and fall. Grief and anger aren’t extinguished like flames doused with water. They can flicker away one moment and burn hot the next.

How to reduce PTSD in soldiers?

For Soldiers returning from the war in Afghanistan and Iraq, those who were kind to themselves showed significant declines in symptoms of PTSD. Self- compassion is associated with greater happiness and satisfaction, fewer emotional difficulties and less anxiety

Paid Maternity leave in the USA
The United States is the only developed country in the world that does not provide paid maternity leave. Many companies are not giving its workers access to the sick and bereavement leave they need to get through difficult times- which makes it more likely that personal struggles will lead to work struggles. Actually offering support through personal hardships helps employees to become more committed to their companies. We need to rethink our public and corporate policies to make sure that women and men get the time off they need to care for themselves and their families.

Inspiring story of NFL veteran Vernon Turner
When Vernon was eleven years old, he walked in on his mother shooting heroin in their bathroom. Instead of sending him out, she said, “I want you to see me do this because I don’t ever want you to do this.... Because this is going to kill me.” Four years later, her words proved tragically true.

Not eleven years old, Vernon was solely responsible for his family. Vernon thought the only way he could earn enough money to provide for his family was to play in the NFL. He was a star for a Division II college team but had been told repeatedly that he wasn’t tall enough, strong enough, or talented enough to turn pro. “I had to make it, because if I didn’t, my brothers and sisters would be in foster care. I was not going to be a product of my DNA. I was going to be a product of my actions,” he wrote.

Vernon began setting his alarm for two a.m. to start his workouts, building strength by tying a rope around his body and dragging a tire up a hill. “I pushed myself to the limit, mentally and physically. I put myself through brutal hell, preparing for the NFL. I had workouts I would not wish on my worst enemy- I was ready to die on the football field.” he made it into the league as a return specialist. “What triggered resilience for me was God giving me strength and my mom telling me, right before she died, that no matter what happens, you keep the family together. I turned to football to save my family. When they measured my stature, they failed to measure my heart.”

What is the best way to avoid burnout?
Meaningful work buffers against burnout.

Best thing to write in your journal at the end of the day
Writing something we are feeling gratitude about is a good method. But, counting our blessings doesn't boost our confidence or effort, but counting our contributions can. So at the end of the day, the best method is to write three things you had done well that day. Writing three moments of joy can also be a great method.

One of the best methods of treatment or prevention of depression in the elderly
Apart from physical health effects, exercise is one of the best ways to improve psychological well- being. For some adults over fifty who suffer from major depression, working out may even be as effective as taking the antidepressant.

What is the best way to conquer your addictions?
You cannot outrun any addiction. You must heal, and that takes a kind of love that no one else can provide for you. Once you find self -compassion and self- acceptance, you will be able to gain control over your addiction.

My favourite lines from this book
”A key to resilience is hope.. We normally think of hope as something individuals hold in their heads and in their hearts. But people can build hope together. By creating a shared identity, individuals can form a group that has a past and a brighter future.”

4/5 This is a deeply inspiring book and the author wrote straight from her heart about all the hardships she had to face after her husband's death and also how she tackled it. If you are facing any adversity in your life right now there is no need to think twice, just grab a copy of this book and start reading. I guarantee you that it will help you to handle difficult situations in your life in a better way.

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May 31, 2017
It’s rude to criticize grieving widows. Maybe it’s even mean or cruel, and a boiling cauldron awaits me in Hell. But Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Option B, is hard to take seriously, especially for those of us who are not multi-millionaires and have lost a spouse and been left alone caring for young children.

Many glowing reviews have been written about Option B, but few reviews mention the glaring inadequacies of this book. This is probably out of sympathy for the author. Or perhaps fear of retribution from Facebook, her employer, and probably the one of the most powerful companies in the world. Or maybe people haven't actually read the book and just want to express sympathy.

There is no denying that Sandberg’s grief is very real and quite raw and the book reflects that. However, her husband had been dead less than two years (seven days shy to be exact) when the book was published. That means she was writing and pitching it when he had been dead only one year. How much real insight can she have only one year into one of the most horrible experience of life? The suffering has only just begun. As an example, consider that Prince Harry, who was 13 when he lost his mother 20 years ago, recently admitted to visiting a counselor for help with his grief. The book, which sometimes reads like a victory parade, is premature, to say the least.

In many ways, the book seems like mortuary opportunism. It’s disjoint and cobbled structure gives the impression of publishers rushing to strike while the grief is raw, before the author can come to her senses and realize that her pain is being exploited as fuel for profits.

As an analogy, imagine that I get into a car accident. Am I then an expert in automotive safety? Or if I break my leg, should I write a book about skeletal fractures? No.

The expert in this book is Adam Grant, the co-author. But why is Sandberg making the rounds of talk shows and writing articles? Because she is rich and famous. So don’t expect much insight or expertise.

On the positive side, Sandberg finally admits that her previous book, Lean In, was insensitive toward single women. This was a huge criticism of Lean In. Finally, now that she has a had a brief taste of single parenthood, she can acknowledge that, well, it’s hard and her advice rang hollow. But in reality, she still has no idea. Most single moms don’t have billions in assets. They don’t have nannies. They don’t fly in top psychologists when they are feeling down. Lean In was criticized as elitist and detached from common reality. Option B follows a similar track, but with a tad more humility born of suffering.

Among other things, the book recommends throwing yourself back into work. That’s great, if you don’t actually have any real work to do, or if you have nannies, cooks, house cleaners to take care of the home, etc. Or if you can simply change the company's previously inadequate grief policy. Facebook is a great company, and Sandberg is very fortunate to work there. But most companies are not as generous.

In my experience talking with widows, mostly at support groups, many widows are eventually fired, laid off, or forced to quit because it’s impossible to balance work and home when there is suddenly only one parent. If the dead spouse had plenty of life insurance, this is not such a big problem. But that’s not the case for most people.

Naturally, most companies won’t outright fire a widow right away. No. That would look bad. But within the year, somehow, the job will be gone. And once you lose that job, you are virtually unemployable. I’m not talking about specialized scientists or well-connected executives—the top 1%--who’s skills are always in demand. What about average people? What advice does Sandberg, a business guru, have for these people? None.

But you can hardly blame her. She doesn’t really have to work. I mean she has more money than she could possibly ever spend. And she’s always been filthy rich compared to the average person. Born that way. So she doesn’t even know what it’s really like to be unemployed and desperate. She works because she wants to and it makes her happy. And that’s great. But most people are not in that boat.

Most widows have to work twice as hard and then come home to twice the disaster. Con artists trying to swindle you, kids acting out, shutting down, depression, friends abandoning you. Until the ACA, most people had little access to mental health care. And it looks like we may soon return to that state, but that’s a different story. In any case, competent mental health is very expensive. The free stuff provided by your insurance company doesn’t usually work very well. Rest assured that Sandberg’s counselor is far superior to any psychologist foolish enough to accept the miserly payments from your insurance company.

Sandberg’s story is tragic yet inspiring. No one denies that. The book is also full of stories of other people who have had to overcome enormous setbacks, like rape, and not just death. There are too many poignant stories to touch upon here. Although they sometimes appear as afterthoughts, clinical and calculated, added in to make the book appear more balanced, nevertheless they make the book more than just a banal memoir. The book is the work of two authors, a business guru and a psychologist, and it’s a relief that Option B pulls stories from various perspectives.

Yes, the book tells many stories and is well researched and documented. But that’s not enough. The main story, Sandberg’s story, is still too raw to make much sense. Like in Lean In, it’s a lesson about the life of the extremely rich elite, ignoring the perspective of the average person. In Option B, we get to see how super rich people deal with tragic loss and grief. Unsurprisingly, grief is awful and doesn’t really care whether you are rich or poor. And perhaps also unsurprisingly, even in grief, rich people are still out of touch with the experience of common people.
June 16, 2017
Ok I didn't quite get through this one before it disappeared from my IPad but I did get through most of it.

I found the book to be helpful with good insight not only for someone grieving a loss but also for anyone who is suffering from or have a loved one suffering from a serious illness, or experience some trauma. I also think it would be helpful to anyone who wants to understand how someone who is grieving feels and how you could help them with their grief.
Profile Image for Abel Keogh.
Author 11 books90 followers
April 19, 2017
I’m honored to be a small part of Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant’s new book Option B. (See page 164.) The message of the book is one that everyone can benefit and learn from: We are stronger and more resilient than we think. We not only have the ability to cope with devastating life events but can rediscover joy and find greater and deeper meaning and appreciation for life. It helps readers learn how to own situations instead of having situations own us.

Since many of my readers are widowers or are in a relationship with a widower, the book is about how Sheryl Sandberg was able to put her life back together after the unexpected death of her husband. The book has some good ideas that can help widowers overcome the loss of their spouse and count the blessings in their lives. It contains tips on how to talk to those who have lost a loved one or struggling with serious life events.

Thankfully the book looks beyond simply losing a spouse and you don’t have to have lost a spouse to appreciate the message Sandberg and Grant convey. Anyone who’s suffered from or had a friend or family member who’s has a serious disease, lost a job, is going through a divorce, struggling with addictions, victim of sexual assault, etc. can benefit from the message in this book. Highly recommend it.
Profile Image for Caro (Bookaria).
617 reviews20.5k followers
August 24, 2017
The book narrates how Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, has been able to cope with the sudden death of her beloved husband who passed away at a relatively young age leaving two young children behind.

The book not only explores her experience but also includes the advice she has received from numerous people, how it might be more difficult for certains group of people to be able to cope and get the help and support needed in this type of difficult moments, how other people have coped with unwanted events or tragedies and issues related to other types of hardships such as illnesses, sexual assault, etc.

I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by the author and thought the book can be helpful to those in the grieving process. Listening to other people's techniques and experiences can help other in crisis.

Overall, the book was ok. I recommend it to those whose life has been deeply affected by unprecedented and difficult events.

Review posted on blog.
Profile Image for Jennifer Blankfein.
384 reviews655 followers
June 5, 2017

Sheryl Sandberg suffered a tragic and unthinkable loss when her husband died on vacation, and just like anyone else, she had to develop coping strategies and solutions to problems in order to work through her grief, comfort her children and get back to living. Her personal story is honest, devastating and inspiring as she, along with her friend and co-writer, Adam Grant, present a lot of great information and ideas for those who have experienced a loss, also providing advice and suggestions for friends, family and coworkers on how to be supportive and understanding in Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy.

The book has expertly woven Sandberg’s personal stories with a more technical approach to grief. Based on research, Sandberg and Grant suggest recovery from a tragedy can be stunted if you tend to think what happened is your fault, if you believe the bad thing that happened will affect all areas of your life and if you think the feelings of unhappiness will never end. Once you realize none of these are true, you are better able to cope and are on the road to recovery.

They talk about the benefits of journaling to work through feelings and how to focus on the positives. Sandberg says “Journaling helped me make sense of the past and rebuild my self confidence to navigate the present and future.” “Adam suggested I write 3 things I have done well today”. They suggest that “contributions are active” and they “remind us that we can make a difference”. Also the suggestion of writing down 3 moments of joy experienced each day helps to remember there are still good things happening.

Another area of helpful advice revolves around building resilience in children and helping them develop 4 core beliefs: “1) they have some control over their lives, 2) they can learn from failure, 3) they matter as human beings, and 4) they have real strengths to rely on and share.” Sheryl shares conversations with her children and although each person and situation is unique, it gives the reader ideas of how to help children process a death and cope with a painful situation.

In the wake of tragedy and loss we also learn about some possible positive repercussions. At this crucial time there is opportunity to change your thought process and dig deep. Post traumatic growth includes “finding personal strength, gaining appreciation, forming deeper relationships, discovering more meaning in life and seeing new possibilities.”

In Option B there are lots of great examples based on experts and research of how to face adversity head on and come out ok on the other side. In addition, Sandberg talks about her experiences, how she made decisions about the children without her beloved partner, how humor is necessary and plays an important role in resilience and what is helpful to receive in terms of support and kind words from friends, coworkers and others.

This inspirational book is Sheryl Sandberg’s personal story along with fantastic suggestions for things to do and ways to think about life when faced with adversity. It is a book everyone should read…a great gift as well.

To follow all my reviews go to https://booknationbyjen.wordpress.com.
Profile Image for Amora.
197 reviews153 followers
June 21, 2020
I should start off by saying that this book is definitely not made for everyone. Many of the techniques offered by Sandberg and Grant aren’t oriented for someone who has a very little time for leisure. Self-confidence and doing activities that bring joy after a tragedy are a nice remedy, but not everyone can build resilience the same way Sandberg did after her husband tragically died. I liked the chapter on “kicking the elephant out of room,” but I wasn’t connected with the rest of the book.
Profile Image for Sara Kamjou.
612 reviews331 followers
January 1, 2018
تو این کتاب نویسنده که از مدیران ارشد فیسبوکه، از تجربیات خودش بعد از مواجه شدن با مرگ همسرش دیو که عاشقانه دوستش داشته و در مدت تجربه‌ی سوگش می‌نویسه و اینکه چه‌قدر تو این مسیر اذیت شده و در عین حال بی‌خیال زندگی نشده و رشد کرده.
من فکر می‌کنم مفید بودن این کتاب، تنها به کسانی که تجربه‌ی مشابهی با شرایط شرلی سندبرگ دارن محدود نمی‌شه و هر کس تو زندگیش بهتره یک بار این کتاب رو بخونه و اگر تجربه‌ی مشابهی داره بارها بخوندش!
این کتاب رو به سختی می‌تونیم یه کتاب خودیاری بدونیم چون بر خلاف اکثر کتاب‌های خودیاری حالت شعاری نداره و ما با تجربیات و تلاشی با اصالت مواجه هستیم که نحوه‌ی بیان نویسنده اثرگذاریش رو دو چندان کرده.
من نسخه‌ی صوتی کتاب رو با صدای بهنوش قنبری گوش دادم و ازش راضی بودم.
Profile Image for Jess Johnson.
43 reviews50 followers
May 30, 2017
This was interesting to read after 'Lean In.' In some ways, Sheryl is absolutely humbled by the tragedy that hit her family. She openly talks through the vulnerability and admits to a lot of the assumptions she made with 'Lean In' coming from a place of stability and privilege. I enjoy how she dips into the research on real techniques that help in very concrete ways.

That said, Sandberg still approaches things from privilege. In her worst moment, it took a village to raise her up (her family rallies around her and drops everything to prioritize spending time with her, she's gone through tragedy so she goes and calls a brilliant psychologist friend for free advice, she can afford help on other things, etc.). I think anyone can take away some gems of wisdom in how to approach tragedy but people need to be realistic about how much they can copy and paste her path forward -- most people do not have the resources and support network Sandberg does. I wish this had been addressed a bit more as Sandberg gives some statistics on people who can't take time off for ill or dying loved ones but she never touches on the difficulty of how others make it through.
Profile Image for Richard Derus.
2,978 reviews1,989 followers
November 24, 2017
It's #Booksgiving! Start getting your bookish friends their read on...especially valuable for your friend whose grief is still raw.

Sheryl Sandberg lost her husband before he was fifty. I lost mine when he was not quite 34. I connect with her pain on every imaginable level.

I also understand why she wrote this survivors' manual. She had to do something positive with her agony or it would sink her, and she was now a single mom. She couldn't afford the luxury of sinking because it would take her children down as well. That is a great reason to do the horrible, painful, disconcerting work of growing around your grief.

The rest of my review is at my blog because forgiving isn't my strongest suit.
Profile Image for SerialReader.
238 reviews33 followers
May 15, 2017
A cathartic book for Sheryl but it doesn't give much constructive advice. Way too general.
Profile Image for Jay.
61 reviews48 followers
April 26, 2017
Sheryl Sandberg, you simply understand. Thank you.

As a female who has worked in tech, specifically in social media, I must say, I lack investment in corporate life. I'm the one who wants to be the full-time wife...

And it is with that in mind that I must tell you, Sheryl Sandberg blew me away. While I could appreciate her earlier book, 'Lean In,' Option B was one of the most raw, gut wrenching reads I've had in some time. If there's anything she left out, I can't begin to fathom what that may be.

In clear, haunting detail, Sheryl describes how she & the couple's friends found Dave & I lost it... Yes, I lost it all of a few pages in. I've been through & continue to face some deep losses & rather than irritating platitudes, Sheryl Sandberg speaks in a way that is relatable.

No matter the means a family may acquire, nothing can shield us from the death of a loved one. In some ways, it's perhaps the cruelest joke of all... the one time you really want your money to buy your way out of something, you're powerless. Although it's never said quite like that, I've been there. As Sheryl recounts the calls to numerous friends & experts, the common theme is that as well meaning as they may be, even as much as they may help to an extent, no network, no amount of money, no amount of status gets us out of this one.

There are very few people Of whom I can say I'd like to meet, but Sheryl Sandberg is on that list. Her compassion and genuine kindness are a rare find.
Profile Image for Blaine.
782 reviews658 followers
August 2, 2022
We plant the seeds of resilience in the ways we process negative events. After spending decades studying how people deal with setbacks, psychologist Martin Seligman found that three P’s can stunt recovery: (1) personalization—the belief that we are at fault; (2) pervasiveness—the belief that an event will affect all areas of our life; and (3) permanence—the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever. The three P’s play like the flip side of the pop song “Everything Is Awesome”—“everything is awful.” The loop in your head repeats, “It’s my fault this is awful. My whole life is awful. And it’s always going to be awful.”
First, you should know going into Option B that it opens with, and repeatedly discusses in heartbreaking detail, the death of Ms. Sandberg’s husband. Portions of the book were difficult to read because they were just so sad. If you recently suffered a loss, especially the death of a spouse, it may be too much.

In Option B Ms. Sandberg takes herself to task for some errors of omission in her earlier book, Lean In—particularly overlooking the challenges facing single mothers. I suspect she may someday look back at Option B and similarly feel that she glossed over the challenges facing grieving non-billionaires. Still, I thought there were some useful tips sprinkled throughout the book about building resilience and finding happiness during times of adversity.
Profile Image for Lindsay Nixon.
Author 22 books720 followers
October 20, 2020
Facebook propoganda meets white billionaire privilege. Gross.

I feel sad for Sheryl Sandberg and her loss, but this book is TERRIBLE. Positioned as a self-help book, it's anything but helpful.

I agree with the negative reviews that this doesn't provide practical advice for ANYONE.

The most frustrating part is how blind she is to her billionaire white privilege. She weaves in all these statistics that show the grim reality of a lot of people but shows no compassion, offers no help, just, in the next breath, talks about her private nannies and how she was 'so fortunate' to take time off from work. It felt like she wanted a cookie for shining a light on how bad it is for some folks.

She also name drops a lot... OKAY ✋🏼 we get it, you are pals Mark Zuckerburg and work at Facebook... and before that GOOGLE and you wrote a book and did a Ted Talk, GOOD FOR YOU. (Seriously, How many times does she need to say that?)

The amount of kissing @$$ to Facebook made me wonder if this was some sort of strange advertisement. She talks constantly about how Facebook heals people and is this super important thing. It was like Facebook was god...

I threw the book down when she hijacked Antoine Leiris' post. It was so GROSS how she took credit (on FB's behalf) for that. If you're unfamiliar, Leiris lost his wife to terrorism and wrote the most beautiful post about his experience on Facebook. Yes, he wrote it on Facebook but you don't get to take credit for him and his work (but do please read his book, You Will Not Have My Hate, 5 stars)

In terms of usefulness: What this book has is a lot of platitudes and inserted "advice" from other sources or people, such as Emily McDowell, who ARE worthy of your time. The only "helpful" item I plucked from the book was that when talking to someone grieving, instead of "how are you feeling" ask, "how are you feeling today?"

This is not a memoir of her personal grief and tragedy, though that dialogue is included in the book and it's the only redeeming quality. (THat's where the 'today' distinction came from).

It's so rare I ask audible or kindle for a refund -- but this may be the first time I legitimately use the "good listen guarantee" and seek one.
Profile Image for Azhar.
73 reviews9 followers
April 27, 2017
This one is a tear jerker - ugly criers be warned. Beyond the Instagram selfies and humble brag Facebook posts is a ton of grief in all of our lives that we do our best to hide from others. Option B uses Sheryl's tragedy to openly discuss trauma, it's impact, recovery, and post trauma growth in a tone free of pretension. I especially appreciated parts of the book that recommended actions to take to support a friend experiencing a loss of some kind. There's a lot of realness in this book. I'm glad I read it and I hope all of my friends do too.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,675 reviews2,667 followers
October 16, 2017
I read the first three chapters and skimmed the rest. I remember hearing of Sandberg’s husband’s sudden death of cardiac arrhythmia while on an exercise machine in a Mexico hotel. (Elizabeth Alexander’s husband died in similar circumstances; she wrote about it in The Light of the World.) I think I expected this to be a straightforward bereavement memoir, when in fact it’s more of a self-help guide about developing resilience, whether or not you’re recovering from loss or trauma.

Sandberg co-wrote this with psychologist Adam Grant, so even where you see “I” you’re not entirely sure it’s her words. Even though she kept a journal in the five months following Dave’s death, only one entry is reproduced here. Instead, there are lots of case studies of regular people who have come through seemingly unbearable circumstances. As Sandberg explains, “Since Dave passed away, so many people have said to me, ‘I can’t imagine.’ … my reply became, ‘I can’t imagine either, but I have no choice.’” There are some interesting facts and strategies here. I can see this being helpful for people facing hard times, but it’s not necessarily a book for the general reader.
Profile Image for Amin.
Author 13 books160 followers
September 30, 2018
به عنوان یک کتاب خودیاری کتاب بدی نیست، اما به نظرم حجم زیادش یه مقدار اثرگذاریش رو کم کرده. با این حال بیشتر از هر کسی به درد افرادی می‌خوره که اخیرا کسی رو از دست دادند یا اطرافیان چنین افرادی.

نکته‌ای هم که حین گوش دادن به نسخه صوتی کتاب خیلی توجهم رو جلب می‌کرد هوش بالای بچه‌ها بود. نمی‌دونم چرا حس می‌کنم هوش هیجانی بچه‌های خارجی نسبت به هوش بچه‌های ایرانی بیشتره. به خاطر محیطه یا آموزش یا والدین یا ژنتیک یا کلا اشتباه می‌کنم؟
Profile Image for Bill.
291 reviews93 followers
July 18, 2017
3.0 Stars

I have such mixed feelings about this book. I’m glad I read it and encourage folks to give it a whirl if you can pick up a copy at your local library but from the very beginning, something felt off, not quite right.

But first let me express my sincere condolences to Sheryl Sandberg for the loss of her husband of eleven years. I can empathize with her intense sense of loss and grief. David Goldberg, a former Yahoo executive and at the time of his death CEO of SurveyMonkey, and Sandberg were married in 2004. While the couple was vacationing in Mexico eleven years later, Goldberg suffered a fatal cardiac arrhythmia on the treadmill at the resort’s gym. Out of the blue, without warnings or symptoms, Sandberg’s husband was dead. This book is about her reaction to the intense pain and grief she experienced and how she worked through the emotional turmoil and adversity to build resilience in life and find happiness in the aftermath of the family tragedy.

Sandberg and co-author Adam Grant share their experiences and research on grief and resiliency, citing many psychological authorities and research studies on anxiety, affective forecasting, self-compassion and self-confidence, four core beliefs that build resiliency in kids, even the “mum effect” to name just a few of the many very interesting concepts explored in this 176-page, non-fiction self-help book.

Perhaps it’s the brevity of the book that did not sit well with me, leaving me with a sense of unfulfillment and dissatisfaction. A 176-page tome doesn’t allow much breathing space for exploration or edification of some very important and interesting psychological concepts and theories espoused in the book. The brevity spawned a sense of superficiality which then challenged my assumption of authenticity. By story’s end I rarely felt inspired, motivated or engaged. “Self-help lite” came to mind.

I mean no disrespect to Sheryl … there is no disputing her loss and the tremendous emotional and psychological burden the sudden death of her husband put on her and the children … but when you are a billionaire, the sharp, jagged edges of grief and despair can be honed down and softened to a certain degree. While economic status does not shield one from grief, most people who lose a special person in their life like a spouse or parent bury the love ones today and are forced to go back to work the very next day. Sandberg’s status and wealth gave her far more breathing room and personal recovery time to work through her loss than the average person. Again, no disrespect to Sandberg but some of her advice and recommendations felt somewhat shallowly explored or superficial, perhaps insulated by the time and space that wealth provides.

Overall a decent read with lots of opportunities for the reader to do more independent research on the subject of grief and resilience by leveraging the thirty-plus pages of footnotes at the end of the book.

I only wish I came away more engaged and inspired. Perhaps you will!
Profile Image for Laura Noggle.
682 reviews397 followers
December 4, 2017
3.5 Stars rounded up to 4, because it has a solid message and is widely applicable.

Resilience is the strength and speed of our response to adversity, and we can build it. It isn’t about having a backbone. It’s about strengthening the muscles around our backbone.
– Sheryl Sandberg

This book isn't just about bouncing back from a loved one's death — it's about moving forward and post traumatic growth. Essentially: Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it, with some science and real-life examples to back it up.

I read "Lean In," and "Originals" earlier this year, so pretty much had to read this one too. It's an easy read and likely to choke you up at times. I found it inspiring, and also helpful for knowing how to counsel others dealing with tragedy/death/loss of love — basically any kind of life hurdle.

There is something for everyone here, for any situation where the first choice isn't available.

So many good takeaways, and a relatively short book. Would recommend to anyone dealing with accepting "Option B."

Keep In Mind

“Tragedy does not have to be personal, pervasive, or permanent, but resilience can be. We can build it and carry it with us throughout our lives.”

"Self-confidence is critical to happiness and success. When we lack it, we dwell on our flaws. We fail to embrace new challenges and learn new skills. We hesitate to take even a small risk that can lead to a big opportunity."

"With the right support, beliefs can fuel action and become self-fulfilling. Believe you can learn from failure and you become less defensive and more open. Believe you matter and you spend more time helping others, which helps you matter even more. Believe you have strengths and you start seeing opportunities to use them. Believe you are a wizard who can cross the space-time continuum and you may have gone too far."

"When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves."
- Viktor Frankl
Profile Image for Ijeoma.
58 reviews40 followers
July 29, 2017
I have to give Sheryl Sandberg credit. The topic of this book is not an easy one to cover and let's be honest, the majority of authors that do pen such books related to rebounding from grief have some kind of educational background or job experience that gives them the authority to advise.

Sandberg uses her personal experience (the passing of her husband), to explain to readers that despite the pain and loss, happiness can still return (if allowed).
With the aid of her close friend, Adam Grant, Sandberg fuses statistics and facts with the experiences of other members of society who experienced some sort of tragedy. She shares their pain and loss and what they did to rebuild and move forward. I found many of the stories to be encouraging.

This book raised some great points regarding resiliency, which is very important when trying to rebuild or rebound. The tone of the book is very encouraging and the points are applicable not only to persons experiencing the death of a loved one, but even to those who may have lost a job or even a home. After all, tragedy and loss come in several forms.

I recommend this book not only for persons grieving, but for those individuals who want to learn how to help persons close to them that may have experienced such.

I gave this book 3 stars and that is only because I took issue with the statistics that were presented. They focused mainly on one or two ethnic groups (primarily, the Latinos and African Americans) and left out the research on Asians and Caucasians. This is important if the book is intended to address a wide range of readers.

That is the only issue I have with the book. If anything else, this book made Sandberg appear more human instead of a woman, who is so far up the socio economic ladder, that she is out of touch with the experiences of ordinary working class individuals from different economic backgrounds. This book will be her redeeming point since "Lean In".
12 reviews
May 22, 2017
Not all of the author's friends, coworkers, and acquaintances said the perfect things to her after her husband died. She remembered every transgression, and then wrote a book detailing them.

I was hoping that I would learn something about resilience from this book. Instead, after reading the author's judgements on all sorts of well-meaning reactions to her loss, I'm even more uncomfortable speaking to people who are grieving.
Profile Image for Daniel Clausen.
Author 11 books468 followers
October 29, 2019
I love reading books about resilience. It's a subject I'm fascinated by. That being said, I found myself skimming chapters from this book and periodically losing my train of thought while reading this book. Part of the problem is that the book attempts to balance two different things. One, Ms. Sandberg tries to tell a very personal story of resilience around the loss of her husband; and two, the book tries to summarize various strands of research on resiliency and post-traumatic growth. These two goals often come into conflict and distract from one another.

I think because I don't have a family myself, I found it hard sometimes to relate to the author's journey. That being said, I do think the book is written in a way that may be engaging for working women with families. As for the research that is summarized, I think a reader could pick up a few tidbits of useful research to help with their own resiliency study, but perhaps it's best to look for a more comprehensive resource or to look for a book that is more focused on resiliency research in general.
Profile Image for Sadra Aliabadi.
45 reviews77 followers
February 11, 2018
آپدیت: اینجا در موردش بیشتر نوشتم.

خوندش مثل واکسن بود، اگر تراژدی به تازگی براتون رخ داده یا در آینده ممکنه رخ بده خوندن این کتاب رو مد نظر داشته باشید. اونقدر کتاب تکان دهنده ای نیست ولی خب کمک میکنه خیلی از ساختارهای روانی بعد از تراژدی رو متوجه بشیم.
یکم خیلی جهان اولی هست نوع مشکلش ولی خب تراژدی بزرگ و کوچیک نمیشناسه. شت هپنز
Profile Image for Claire.
859 reviews191 followers
December 4, 2019
2019 has been a bit of a taker, so this was a well-timed read for me. Although Sandberg's personal context is particular, there's a lot to take from this about what happens when Plan A fails. Sandberg's discussion of space, attitude, and patience real rang true for me. This was a timely reminder that our challenges, and traumas are PART of us but they are not us, and to be gentle with the people around us; we don't know what they're carrying around every day.
Profile Image for Jay French.
2,053 reviews77 followers
July 24, 2017
I’ve read some of the negative reviews of Sandberg’s books and I agree with them to a point. Sandberg does discuss how she personally handled the grief of losing a spouse, and she generalized her efforts to deal with the grief and moving on while remembering into advice for all. It’s that advice for all that was a bit off-putting, as Sandberg does live a blessed life in terms of personal finances and in terms of corporate power. Her circumstances in these areas are not generalizable to the majority of population. Most can not act as she does in her work environment without negative consequences. But I still found some important topics discussed here. One was about how to talk to a friend or acquaintance who has lost a spouse – is the subject to be ignored, or if not, how should it be acknowledged? Sandberg suggests that one specific question to ask someone with a recent loss is how they are feeling today. Without the qualifier of “today”, the question would seem to have an obvious answer. There are a couple of other areas where I felt I learned something, and for those areas, I found the book valuable from the how-to perspective. I also appreciated the memoir, the personal face Sandberg was willing to put into her book. I found this interesting for those parts.
Profile Image for Sheila .
1,936 reviews
May 4, 2017
I have not yet read Sandberg's popular book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, even though I have a copy on my book shelf. For some reason I previusly thought of Sandberg as one of those privileged women, one of the unique, and maybe not the voice to speak to me. Option B though shows us that Sandberg is not necessarily that privileged, as she suddenly is left a widow and single parent when her husband dies suddenly at a young age while on vacation with her in Mexico. Yes, she is privileged in her money and resources, but her world is still turned upside down, and this successful businesswoman is suddenly left doubting herself in all areas as she tries to return to work and juggle her new role as a single parent.

Poignant and emotional, the book will bring tears to your eyes with Sandberg's heart wrenching honestly of how she coped in the initial moments and days. I have a new respect for this woman now, and think I will read Lean In to see what else she has to say, though in this book she admits herself that some things she wrote in Lean In were out of touch for women who are single parents raising their children alone, something she had no concept of when she wrote it.
Profile Image for Bibliovoracious.
339 reviews31 followers
February 1, 2019
Not a self-help, but a sharing memoir walking through Sheryl Sandberg's own journey of recovery after the sudden death of her beloved husband, with references to all she learned was important at every step, and a whole lot of "this is all normal" stories of devastating losses (think you got it bad?). Surprisingly vulnerable for a public professional, and I liked that.

I liked the bit at the end where she got her hackles up because long-term mourning is a designated female thing, and society censures women if they date too soon after losing a spouse (but NOT men- what's up with that?). "Few things motivate me more than being told something is sexist" (paraphrase), and ... What's up with that? Who's the "weaker sex" exactly, if men are socially condoned when they rapidly remarry after being widowed? Oh, well, poor men couldn't possibly survive in the wild on their own, wifeless. It's interesting to notice for the first time that things are the way they are.
Profile Image for Amir H.
24 reviews7 followers
November 6, 2018
I chose this book because of my dark days after losing my dad last year.
I read the introduction and I found shared feeling with the author and I continue reading.

The book includes important knowledge about making resilience, however, I think it was not necessary a full book on it. The materials could be written as a long article not a book.

All in all, it is good to remind important things again here:

1- accept the loss and don't blame yourself for that
2- accept the sad feeling, and let it come out of you
3- friends are important elements in this stage. If you are a friend of someone who has loss, talk to him/her and don't try to escape the talks around this subject.
4- make your loss as tool to be more powerful and help other people as well. (let you sad moment improves your character)
5- don't feel bad if you found joy and feel happy again. Grab it, you need it.
6- raise resilient Kids (if you have or going to have in future)
7- find strength as a group
8- accept failure and use them for success
9- and finally don't forget "Love" ...
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