I read and enjoyed Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg when it came out (see my blog) and subsequently read her very moving Facebook post after her husband Dave Goldberg suddenly died at the age of 47 two years ago. I’d also read a few pieces by her since, when she conceded that she had not understood when writing Lean In what it was like for women trying to thrive and succeed at work and balance family life without a loving and supportive partner. So, when my friend Emma recommended Sandberg’s new book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience and Finding Joy written with Adam Grant I gladly borrowed it.
This is a book I would recommend to anyone. Whilst it is about dealing with grief and loss, it applies to all of us, as it is full of helpful advice about how to support friends or relatives going through loss of any kind.
Sandberg writes clearly and honestly about what it feels like coping with the loss of your partner, from how she got through the initial weeks and months, to dealing with the painful milestones of birthdays and the anniversary of his death. She talks about the immense support she received at work and in her life outside of work, and peppers the book with policy suggestions of how things need to change to support people dealing with bereavement. Adam Grant provides the evidence base on how to find strength in the face of adversity.
Within a day of reading it I was able to recommend it to someone who had lost a stepson in his twenties to suicide. I was also able to use the advice myself – Instead of offering a vague ‘let me know if there is anything I can do’ to a friend who had just suffered a bereavement, I learned that this isn’t helpful as it puts the burden on the recipient to say what they need. Instead I made a couple of very specific offers of help. Whilst these weren’t quite what she needed, it made it easier for her to suggest something that would be better.
This book doesn’t take long to read and it’s an investment in knowing you’ll be better able to help a colleague, friend or family member going through tough times.