Sheryl Sandberg is known for many things: her illustrious career at tech companies such as Google and Facebook, her unique brand of feminism that inspired the Lean In movement, and more recently, how she has dealt with the sudden and unexpected loss of her beloved husband, Dave Goldberg, less than a year ago.
But now, after reports from Page Six emerged suggesting Sandberg was dating multi-billionaire Bobby Kotick, the Facebook Chief Operating Officer a being subject to some vitriolic online backlash….because a woman who lost her husband should not be allowed to move on romantically.
Comments in response to the Page Six story ranged from “Um.. that didn’t take long to”NOTE TO WIFE: IF I CROAK PLEASE WAIT AT LEAST 1 YEAR BEFORE UNFRIENDING ME.” .
One said: If this is true, she is beyond sickening. Lost the “love of her life ” less than a year ago and has already fallen in love again – oh, and he happens to be a billionaire too!
And this: “I hate when people move on from their significant others so fast. So disrespectful to the deceased. You don’t have to play the suffering widow but jeez at least wait a year before you start a new relationship. Sorry, but I don’t believe anyone who dates someone so fast was that happy to begin with.”
In response to the comments, The New York Post’s Jane Ridley wrote:
Somehow, I don’t remember the same kind of fuss when billionaire chairman emeritus of Estée Lauder Leonard Lauder, 79, stepped out with the much-younger Linda E Johnson in 2012 just less than 12 months after his wife Evelyn’s death. Or when actor Liam Neeson found love again with English businesswoman Freya St. Johnston a year after the skiing-accident death of his wife, Natasha Richardson.
Closer to home, no one criticised Australian cricket Glenn McGrath when he met his current wife Sara Leonardi McGrath less than a year after his wife Jane had passed away. Instead, the public mood was one of happiness and congratulations.
People were thrilled to see him in love again after such a painful time in his and his children’s lives.
Following the death of Dave Goldberg in May 2015, Sandberg eulogised her husband publicly on Facebook, calling him her “rock” and describing their 11 year marriage as the “truest partnership that I could imagine.”
After the traditional thirty day period of mourning honoured by the Jewish community had passed, Sheryl wrote that she wanted to “choose life and meaning”.
It was Sheryl’s relationship with Dave that allowed her to thrive professionally. Hell, she dedicated a whole chapter in Lean In to teaching other women and girls to make their partners real partners in work and in life.
And although it was painfully clear that Dave's passing left a void in the heart of their family, Sheryl has continued to lean in to her work and her life in the month's that have followed.
"I was talking to one of these friends about a father-child activity that Dave is not here to do. We came up with a plan to fill in for Dave. I cried to him, “But I want Dave. I want option A.”," Sheryl recounted on Facebook after Dave's death.
"He put his arm around me and said, “Option A is not available. So let’s just kick the shit out of option B.”
Sheryl Sandberg has never been ordinary. She might not have the perfect life, and she may have suffered a terrible loss, but she's always been one to lean in and kick the shit out of option B. And if she has found romantic happiness again, well, more power to her.