Sheryl Sandberg Supports Other Widows While Grieving Husband Dave’s Death: “It’s a Club No One Wants to Join”

Sheryl Sandberg and Dave Goldberg
Sheryl Sandberg's husband, Dave Goldberg, died on May 1, and the widowed Facebook COO is helping others while grieving. Scott Eells/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sheryl Sandberg experienced an unspeakable loss on May 1 when her husband of 11 years, Dave Goldberg, died suddenly at age 47. While the mom of two is still bereft with grief, the Facebook COO is channeling her pain by helping other widows realize they are not alone.

In a moving note posted to her personal Facebook page, Sandberg, 45 — who returned to work at the social media giant Monday on a modified schedule — relayed a story about an interaction she had in the days since Goldberg's death.

"Yesterday, nine days after my beloved husband Dave Goldberg died, I went to my daughter's soccer game. Her friend's grandmother was there — a beautiful woman — sitting in a chair with an empty chair beside it," the Lean In author wrote. "I knew she too had lost her husband at a young age with two young children and that she would be at the game — so I knew that chair was for me."

"I sat down — and before we had said 10 words to each other, I felt completely understood," the widowed exec continued. "She told me that she was reliving her loss through mine — and I did not even need to tell her how I felt."

In her post, Sandberg also called attention to Laura Wellington's recent Huffington Post article written about what it's like to lose a spouse. Applauding Wellington's courage to go public with her story of grief, Sandberg took comfort in knowing there are other supportive members of the “club no one wants to join.”

“Laura, I am sorry for your loss — and my heart goes out to the many women around the world who have experienced this loss too. I learned from your advice and I am sharing it here so others can learn too,” Sandberg wrote. “My condolences to you — and my gratitude.”

Goldberg, the CEO of SurveyMonkey, passed away after collapsing and suffering a head injury at a gym at a private resort in Mexico. Seventeen hundred mourners — including Sandberg and their two children — gathered to pay tribute to the man they loved at a Stanford, Calif., memorial service on May 5.

“As we put the love of my life to rest today, we buried only his body,” Sandberg wrote on Facebook after the funeral. “His spirit, his soul, his amazing ability to give is still with us. It lives on in the stories people are sharing of how he touched their lives, in the love that is visible in the eyes of our family and friends, in the spirit and resilience of our children. Things will never be the same – but the world is better for the years my beloved husband lived.”

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