‘Option B can also be filled with profound happiness’: Sheryl Sandberg on finding love after loss

Love thrives on hope. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, learnt this in the most heartwarming way. She took to Instagram to share a story for the ages, in which she shared how she found love after loss.

In a long post, Sandberg wrote that after losing her husband in 2015 her world collapsed and she was unsure about feeling like that for anyone ever again: “I really wasn’t sure I could ever devote my heart to another person like that.” She wrote about it extensively in the 2017 book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, detailing the pain of losing out on Option A (meaning what one really wants) and then pursuing Option B with all their hearts.

Destiny too had a plan B for her. After being devastated by her partner’s death, she was introduced to marketing CEO Tom Bernthal by Dave’s brother, Rob Goldberg. Both broken by loss (Bernthal is a divorcee), found shelter and solace in each other. After getting engaged to him in February 2020, she has penned a heartfelt letter to him.

She wrote about their first “real” date — when they took a hike and he held her water bottle the whole time. “You insisted on holding my water bottle the entire time. It was a small thing, but it really struck me,” she wrote, adding, “But the truth is, I don’t think anyone had ever held my water bottle before for an entire hike. It felt like a metaphor: I didn’t need someone to pull me up the mountain, just someone to make the uphill trek a bit easier.”

“I’d soon come to discover in much bigger ways your remarkable generosity and warmth as a partner and parent. Apart from how funny, calming and insightful you are, I love how involved you are in our kids’ lives. You’re excited to pick your son and daughters up from school. You’re great at making parenting compromises (my son and daughter have you to thank for the less-strict bedtimes!). You’re ready to play Settlers of Catan for hours with the kids because, to you, it’s all about bringing everybody closer together,” she wrote in the Goodhousekeeping.

“The truth is, I was just so tired before you, Tom. Tired of my chest pulling every time my little girl or boy would say ‘Dad and me.’ Tired of making big parenting decisions alone. Tired of wondering if I’d ever find lifelong love again.”

She concluded the letter alluding to her book and the gifts of Option B. “Our story will never be Option A,” she wrote adding that she will always grieve for Dave and the fact that Bernthal understands this, makes her love him all the more. “I have come to discover that Option B can also be filled with profound happiness. There is so much joy to squeeze out of this new game plan. Thank you for helping me choose to see it.”

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