This book is compassionate, thoughtful and practical for moving through grief in the face of loss, tragedy and traumatic experiences.

I am lucky. Although I have supported people I love in their grieving, I have yet to experience my own deep grief. I have been lucky not to lose anyone who I loved with my whole heart. In this book, with the help of Adam Grant, Sheryl shares her story of debilitating grief after finding her husband dead on the gym floor of their Mexican hotel. She must then go home and tell her family and two children that they have lost their father, son, and brother.

The book is hopeful and moving with deeply inspiring stories of her rehabilitation along with other stories of loss, survival, recovery and growth. The book also gives answers to people like me who are supporting others in their grief.

Here are my takeaways:

The Title

Option B “Option A is not available. So let’s kick the shit out of Option B”
This phrase makes me smile every time I read it. We have all been in the situation where Option A just can’t work. Letting go of option A is not easy, but, it can be such a relief when the focus changes to available options. Sheryl talks about father-son and father-daughter events that are no longer possible for her children. She must embrace option B.

The 3 P’s That Stunt Recovery

  1. Personalization- The belief that we are at fault.
  2. Pervasiveness – The belief that an event will affect all areas of our life.
  3. Permanence – The belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever.

Sheryl references psychologist Martin Seligman’s book, Learned Optimism. Sheryl and Adam apply these 3 P’s throughout the book. I had purchased this book years ago and have not yet read it. I’ll be taking it off my shelf. Option B is about surviving adversity and recovering. Sheryl tells the story of a woman who is recovering from being raped. The 3 P’s stunt recovery of all kinds of aversity.

I have struggled with these barriers to recovery many times in my life. Being a survivor of childhood sexual assault, Personalization has been my go-to for decades. Personalizing gave me a false sense of power. If I would have done this or that, then I would have been safe. In the end, believing it was not my fault was the only road to recovery. I still have to remind myself on days when I am feeling low and a little depressed, I have to remind myself that this feeling is not forever or my fault and my life is still okay.

Post Traumatic Growth

I had not heard this term prior to reading this book, but I have experienced it for myself and people I counsel. I have been searching for a term that could replace “survivor.” One can survive a tragedy or trauma, but real living comes after survival. Taking our experiences and creating something new and stronger. Post traumatic growth is a mouthful, but perfectly descriptive of the possibilities after survival.

Option B is a book I will remember and will be reading again.