Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg opens up about husband's death

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer (COO), is also a mother of two who not so long ago became a widow.

In her only Chicago television interview she opened up about the grief of losing her husband. She also talked about how she hopes her story will help others going through similar struggles and find joy once again.

Sandberg is one of the most powerful women in the world but that status could not prepare her for what happened in her personal life two years ago.

Sandberg and her husband, Dave Goldberg, were vacationing in Mexico when she found his body next to an exercise machine.

An autopsy revealing it was coronary artery disease that ended his life at the age of 47.

"When I first lost Dave two years ago, it was unimaginable. I felt like there was a void closing in on me I couldn't breathe and my biggest fear was that my children's happiness would be destroyed in that instant, they would never smile again," she said.

Before her husband died, Sandburg's professional life was soaring.

In 2001 she was vice president at Google. Seven years later she joined Facebook as Mark Zuckerberg's number two.

Despite being a billionaire and a powerful businesswomen Sandberg said that in an instant, the death of her husband turned that perfect life upside down.

"Losing Dave trashed my self confidence in other areas, how could I be a good parent? I was parenting on my own two grieving children, I knew nothing about this. Going back to work I could barely get through a meeting without crying," she said.

She turned to journaling and eventually wrote "Option B" with psychologist and friend Adam Grant.

"After Dave died, it wasn't just the grief it was that I really felt isolated. Most people looked at me like I was a deer in headlights. They were so scared of saying the wrong thing so they said nothing and I understood that because that is what I had done when I was on the other side of this and didn't understand it the way I do now. And so, we wrote 'Option B' and founded OptionB.org to try to bring people together so we can support each other when we most need it," Sandberg said.

Sandberg said she was able to find laughter again in her life as well as love and joy.

"I have and if 'Option B' does nothing else, I want people to know they will find joy again," she said. "I still miss Dave but I have many moments of joy again, I've gotten better at appreciating them

The Chicago Humanities Festival is hosting Sandberg on Friday night at the Harris Theatre.

Tickets are sold out for that event, however people could try to score a standby ticket if you get to the box office by 5:15 p.m.

Sandberg's book "Option B" is on sale now.
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