Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant is centered around the tragic and sudden death of Sandberg’s husband, Dave Goldberg. The book serves as great testimony to grieving but is filled with recommendations for how to enjoy life. For example, Chapter 2, “Kicking the Elephant Out of the Room” suggests a more open and honest approach to life. “My son dies twice when people refuse to mention his name,” said one grieving parent. Asking about a departed loved one can open the door to real communication.
Sandberg confronts a number of uncomfortable situations. What do you say when a coworker loses a family member? Or starts chemo? She points out that most people are so worried about saying the wrong thing they often say nothing. Sandberg recommends reaching out and trying. In a sense, she is recommending we inoculate ourselves and build resiliency by continuing to work on communication and connections.
Sandberg connects her narrative to the teachings of Martin Seligman, author of Learned Optimism, who teaches people to resist making negative events personal, pervasive, and permanent. In fact, the value of this book can be found in describing how Seligman’s book impacted her grieving process. She also explores how a growth mindset can affect one’s outlook and resiliency.
Reading Option B tapped into my emotions regarding my father’s death 11 years ago. It helped me reflect on my own grieving process and allowed me the space to think about how my next grieving process might be different. It was an emotionally heavy book to tackle but well worth the effort.