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Sheryl Sandberg reveals how Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg helped her after husband's death

sheryl sandberg mark zuckerberg
Ainhoa Barcelona
Content Managing Editor
24 April 2017
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Sheryl Sandberg has opened up about losing her husband Dave, who sadly passed away while the couple were on holiday in Mexico with a group of friends. The Facebook COO said that her boss Mark Zuckerberg reacted in the best way possible – by helping her regain her self-confidence. Speaking to Ellen DeGeneres on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Sheryl said: "One thing that was really important that I learnt from Mark Zuckerberg, my 15 years younger boss, was it's not just telling people they can have time off, it's building their self-confidence.

"People said to me what I used to say to people – 'Oh with everything you're going through you couldn't possibly contribute.' They were trying to be kind but I was like, 'Oh my god, I'm never going to be able to do my job.' What was kinder was what Mark did. He would say, 'You made a good point. You can come in if you want, but you made a good point today.' I'm pretty sure that wasn't true. I wasn't making any good points but he told me, I want you here and you have value."

sheryl sandberg ellen degeneres

Sheryl Sandberg appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to talk about her new book

The Lean In author said she was "shocked" when she lost her self-confidence after Dave died, given that the basis of her book is about female self-empowerment. Sheryl, 47, added: "It really trashed my self-confidence in every aspect. I went back to work. I couldn't go through a meeting without thinking of Dave or tearing up. At home I had to parent two grieving children. And sometimes with a tragedy, work is a better place to be than home for some of us, it was for me. Saying, 'You're doing a great job,' building people back up, is so helpful."

Sheryl, who has two children with her late husband, also recalled the day Dave, CEO of SurveyMonkey, passed away. He was working out at the gym when he fell off a treadmill and suffered head trauma and blood loss. Autopsy results suggested that Dave, 47, suffered a cardiac arrhythmia that contributed to his fall and death. Describing the tragedy as "unimaginable", Sheryl said: "We went for a hike, we had breakfast, he went to the gym and then we couldn't find him. So we eventually looked for him at the gym and my brother-in-law Rob and I found him, and I didn't know this then, but he had already died. And then many hours later I flew home and told my seven and ten-year-old that they would never see their father ever again.

sheryl sandberg dave goldberg© Photo: Rex

Sheryl's husband Dave Goldberg passed away in 2015 aged 47

"Grief, which I have never experienced, it's an overwhelming thing. It just stays with you. I felt like there was a void closing in on me. My brother-in-law Rob described it as a boot pushing on his chest and my biggest fear is that my kids' lives, their happiness, their childhood, would be destroyed in that instant Dave died."

Sheryl's new book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy focuses on healing and coping with difficult circumstances.

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