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Facebook exec: Zuckerberg helped me through grief

Sheryl Sandberg, whose husband died suddenly, discusses the emotional strength she drew from founder of social media giant

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Sheryl Sandberg speaking on a panel at the Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco, Nov. 3, 2015. (Kimberly White/Getty Images for Fortune)
Sheryl Sandberg speaking on a panel at the Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco, Nov. 3, 2015. (Kimberly White/Getty Images for Fortune)

A senior executive at social media giant Facebook says founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg gave her much-needed emotional support as she tried to cope with the sudden death of her husband.

Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, talked to the UK daily The Guardian in an interview published on Saturday.

Sandberg’s husband Dave Goldberg died of a heart attack on May 1, 2015, while the couple was on weekend visit to Mexico. He was 47 at the time. They had been married for 11 years and had two children.

“When I felt so overwhelmed and so isolated and just needed to cry, I would grab him into his conference room and he would just sit there with me and be like, ‘We’re going to get through this and we want to get through it with you,'” she recalled to the paper. “He did it over and over.”

Sandberg has written a book about her grief, “Option B,” with psychologist Adam Grant, which The Guardian described as a guide to resiliency and achieving “post-traumatic growth.”

Sandberg said her self-confidence took a blow following her husband’s death and she needed support from coworkers, including Zuckerberg, to get her back on track.

“Mark is why I’m walking,” she said. “Most of what [he and his wife Priscilla] did is not even in the book, because they did so much.”

Mark Zuckerberg speaking at the Samsung Electronics Co. Unpacked launch event ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 21, 2016. (JTA/Pau Barrena/Bloomberg)
Mark Zuckerberg speaking at the Samsung Electronics Co. Unpacked launch event ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 21, 2016. (JTA/Pau Barrena/Bloomberg)

A month after her husband’s death, Sandberg wrote a post on Facebook about being a widow that attracted some 74,000 comments on Facebook.

“After that, I didn’t feel so alone,” she told The Guardian.

In her June 5, 2015, post, Sandberg revealed her feelings as she completed the traditional Jewish mourning process.

“Today is the end of sheloshim for my beloved husband—the first thirty days,” she wrote. “Judaism calls for a period of intense mourning known as shiva that lasts seven days after a loved one is buried. After shiva, most normal activities can be resumed, but it is the end of sheloshim that marks the completion of religious mourning for a spouse.

“A childhood friend of mine who is now a rabbi recently told me that the most powerful one-line prayer he has ever read is: ‘Let me not die while I am still alive.’ I would have never understood that prayer before losing Dave. Now I do.”

Ten months after her husband’s death Sandberg began dating an old friend, billionaire Bobby Kotick, the report said.

Sandberg, 47, is also the author of “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.” On Mother’s Day, 2016, she wrote a post on Facebook in which she acknowledged that she did not realize how hard single working women had it until she became one herself.

JTA contributed to this report.

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