Dave Goldberg cause of death? I think it’s suicide

First of all, let me say that I feel really bad for everyone who is losing Dave Goldberg in their life. I feel bad that he will not get to see his two kids grow up. His death is very sad. I have not had a spouse die or a parent die and I’m sure the experience is more awful than I could even imagine.

Still. I can’t help but wonder how he died. It is completely standard in journalism to report the cause of death when the announcement is made. After the initial, cursory announcement of death, major publications frequently run an obituary when a famous person dies, yet the Wall St. Journal and the New York Times ran formal obituaries and still mention nothing of the cause of death.

If there were suspicion of murder, there would be a police report.

If there were some sort of complicated condition that Dave kept a secret, the death announcement could follow a time-honored tradition of being vague and uninformative, like saying “heart condition” or “muscular complication” or even “degenerative disease”.

Let’s say he has a terrible disease, like the one in Still Alice, where he will die early and so will his children. And let’s say his children do not know and the family has chosen not to tell them. Fine. The announcement could use that same, vague language.

If the family does not want to talk about the cause of death, it seems that the most logical thing to do would be to announce some sort of vague cause that would stop people from asking questions. But surely the family knows there will be questions if they say nothing. Dave and Sheryl are the most vocal couple on the planet about how to have a dual-career marriage, and one half of that marriage is gone. Of course people will ask questions. The best way to stop the questions is to give a vague, boring cause of death.

So the only explanation I can see for being totally quiet on this topic is that he killed himself.

Why is this important? Why do I get to ask the personally invasive question about his death?

Because Sheryl Sandberg, who was married to him, is not only Facebook’s COO, but she is also the author of the book Lean In. That book tells women that they should have a career like Sheryl’s. And, most significantly for this post, that women should pick a spouse like Dave.

Sheryl has said over and over again that it is because of her spouse that she is able to Lean In (which, loosely translated, means work insanely long hours and have kids and have a great marriage).

I want to know, how can someone Lean In as a single parent? I wonder how someone will Lean In when there is no other parent to comfort a sad child.

If this sounds spiteful and ugly it is. But I think it is also appropriate, and who else would say it besides me?

Most people have something in their life that prevents them from leaning in. I don’t actually even think this is a gender thing. I coach hundreds of men whose earning power plateaus because they won’t relocate or they won’t work weekends, or they want to be home for spring break. It’s not that we are victims of life, it’s that at some point in most of our lives there comes a time when something else is more important than Leaning In.

I don’t have any evidence that it was a suicide. All I have is someone notable died and no one is saying how. And however Sheryl’s husband died is news, since she has been news for three years telling women their husband is instrumental into the process of Leaning In.

But really, I just want to know how Dave died. Because I think he killed himself. And if he did, this might tells us a lot about what happens when both people in marriage Lean In.

Update: A few hours after I published this post news outlets started reporting various other causes of death. Here is my response to those reports: Do we still have to lean in if Dave Goldberg is dead?

597 replies
« Older CommentsNewer Comments »
  1. Jack
    Jack says:

    People responding with “too soon” are foolish. It’s a sophomoric response, devoid of merit. The time to ask these questions and ponder these answers is immediately, if not sooner.

    Second, and to the contrary, this is a discussion that may have occurred far, far too late. Nothing is gained by delaying the obvious in service to some nonsense ideal about death. Worse, the “wait” brigade may conceal what happened here.

    • Bill Witherspoon
      Bill Witherspoon says:


      I bet you feel like a dick now that the news has been released via NYT. He died exercising.

      Penelope Trunk’s reputation died blogging.

      • Robin Wolaner
        Robin Wolaner says:

        Bill Witherspoon, you are entirely correct. I hope this is the last I ever hear of Penelope Trunk and the other disgusting commenters on this blog. If Ms. Trunk had an ounce of dignity she would apologize for her ignorance.

        • Hooveytunes
          Hooveytunes says:

          I would normally NEVER comment on a disgusting blog entry like that of this total disrespectful hack of a crappy “journalist” Penelope Trunk. But I agree with Robin. I hope that now that NYT has released the rest of the news, we can stop paying any attention to Penelope and all her credibility is completely blown away. But when Robin states that, “if she had an ounce of dignity she would apologize”, I think we can be certain she has no dignity after publishing this crap.

          • Sabrina
            Sabrina says:

            Couldn’t agree more. This was ghoulish and mean-spirited. Two young children lost their father on Friday while they were all on vacation. How you can look at that and see anything but heartbreak and tragedy is beyond me.

          • Bev Johnson
            Bev Johnson says:

            Why would she feel like a dick? “Died while exercising” suggests to me the guy wasn’t very healthy. He was only 47. So unless he had some exotic congenital disorder, he was pushing himself too hard to take good care of his body. Stress. Doing too much. This proves Penelope’s point (minus the shamefulness of suicide, if you’re the kind of person who even thinks suicide suggests weakness, which no one here does). I’m still wondering why they didn’t give the cause of death until now. You hafta admit that’s super unusual.

      • Amy Johnston
        Amy Johnston says:

        He, an overweight person (stress eating?) collapsed after exercising? Let’s get real: Stress eating, the diabetes epidemic, ARE a kind of suicide, the slow, socially acceptable kind. People DESTROY themselves with unhealthy habits, because their stress levels are INTOLERABLE: Too much responsibility, too much work, too little support. Financial pressures, relationship problems.

        So people eat crap, don’t exercise as much as they need to, don’t go to the doctor etc, exercise “weekend warrior” style, and drop dead.

        Penelope’s point still stands. If this guy hadn’t been carrying around all that torso weight, which IS a risk factor for cardiac disease and diabetes, he might still be alive. In order for him to lose that weight (that is, STOP STRESS EATING), he’d have to scale way back on his work commitments. That’s right: To survive, he’d have to stop being 1/2 of a silicon valley “power couple.”

        He didn’t stop. He kept right on being 1/2 of Silicon Valley’s dynamic duo until he DROPPED DEAD.

        Good for him. Great role model for all the men and women working like dogs and making tons of money.

        • Elle
          Elle says:

          A lot of people are overweight, honey. Most of this country. It isn’t because they “stress eat”.

        • Bill Hampton
          Bill Hampton says:

          Amy –

          You are as much of a jerk as Penelope.
          You have no basis to claim that his collapse had to do with stress.

          You are an awful person to say this.

        • Jerry Pence
          Jerry Pence says:

          Wow. So never mind that Penelope suggests a devastating end to a man’s life with no evidence (and, I might add, with no sincere regret about the death of this particular human,) but now when it looks like she was flat out wrong she’s still right b/c the guy was overweight? Serious? Totally indicative of the whack jobs who seem to frequent this blog. And if someone wrote a similar post about Penelope dying, speculating that she took her own life without any proof of that, potentially drawing her family into a conversation they never asked to be drawn into, I’m sure you’d be attacking me instead of coming up with bizarro logic to defend me.

          Let’s hand it to Penelope, however, who definitely has achieved the notoriety she no doubt knew she would get by writing this post. Because is there any doubt in looking at this blog that it’s all about her?

          • Andrea
            Andrea says:

            Hear, Hear.

            Penelope has a habit of making pretty harsh judgements about people and this is one that is really appalling. Privacy is a right that EVERY family has the right to expect. There is no reason whatsoever that the family should have to say anything about what caused his death. Her comments were just pure speculation of the worst kind.

        • Marc
          Marc says:

          That is an absolutely uninformed and despicable comment. Dave is not skinny but he was hardly obese and never, ever struck me as unhealthy in the slightest nor have I ever seen him look stressed (I work at SurveyMonkey so I have seen him often). You have no idea how he ate, how he exercised, or how he handled stress. He and his wife are actually well-known for leaving the office every day before 5:30 so that they could eat dinner with their children. A lot of people would do well to be more like him.

          There are certainly people who have the unhealthy habits you mentioned, but you have absolutely no founding to ascribe these things to this man.

          • jessica
            jessica says:

            Eating dinner with the kids doesn’t mean he is active in their lives. Sounds like another scheduled meeting if you ask me.

            Source: have kids, have husband who comes home for dinner and continues working after dinner. He misses a lot of other stuff, though. In fact most of it. But they have one of us present- the mom who chose not miss it in favor of their future.

            Maybe I’ll ‘lean-in’ after they are grown. Who knows. I just find her mantra so baffling to the way real life with present parents in kid’s lives work. Even my husband and I have talks about my husband scaling back to be in our kids lives more! And he’s the only one ‘working!’

            They just don’t see the kids, except for dinner. OK. Fine. That’s a choice they make.

            I want to interview the kids.

            As for Dave, your boss, what do you mean he was never stressed? That contradicts anyone that has such a responsibility, and a family, and a wife with a huuuuge career, and a lot of travel. There was nothing simple about the life they led together. And that’s fine! It just doesn’t mean you don’t take a hit somewhere in your life and it looks like for him it was a health hit.

          • Liz
            Liz says:

            Marc, first, I’m truly very sorry for your loss. Looking at the body transformation of Mr. Goldberg over the years it appears that he gained significant weight around his middle, which is indicative of higher cortisol levels. Higher cortisol is associated with (bodily) unmanageable higher stress levels. Again, very sorry.

        • Bill Hogan
          Bill Hogan says:

          Congratulations! I thought Penelope was the worst person in the world, but with this comment you win!

          • jessica
            jessica says:

            I seriously hope that an analytical response to the assumptions that were presented isn’t what you deem the worst comment in the world?

            Surely there are other unintelligent or uninformed comments on here that deserve that kind of award.

  2. Joyce
    Joyce says:

    Agreed with you until that last (sexist, and awful) conclusion — so if he works hard and his wife works hard too, that’s a recipe for suicide? What a strange way to wrap the piece.

  3. Joy
    Joy says:

    Penelope, a coupleof questions.
    A) have you read the book? Please answer that question first because if you read the book, it will probably help if you would try to see if what was written there is actually matching what you wrote.
    B) have you ever lost a loved one?

    I am very curious as well as to why he died because I have developed a great interest on this couple after reading the book. They have helped me understand what I was going thru, what I can possibly do, and how I can cope with being a new mom with career choices. Not once after reading it have I ever felt pushed towards a corner. My worry is such a post will possibly discourage other women to get the help I got after reading it.
    Let’s be a bit more responsible and reflect on what our actions (like this post) may result to beyond our own personal agenda.

  4. mahadev
    mahadev says:

    When there is no obvious stated cause, there is going to be speculation on the cause of death, whether it’s suicide (P Trunk) or accidental death due to drug O D or an undisclosed illness . I think it is just a coincidence that Rajeev Motwani passed away at 47 so did Dave .

  5. Chris
    Chris says:

    This is seriously poor taste and I think inflammatory in all the wrong ways.

    I am curious but will delete my subscription my subscription to this blog in the meantime as I think you have increasing gone down irrelevant and now inappropriate paths.

    • Tom
      Tom says:

      Chris, why do you feel that you need to announce that you’re deleting your subscription to a blog. It’s not like you’re getting a refund, dude.

      Oh my God, there is nothing more asinine than an SJW.

  6. fabienne
    fabienne says:

    This sentence is absolutely disgusting! “And if he did, this might tells us a lot about what happens when both people in marriage Lean In.”

    • Tom
      Tom says:

      It’s not disgusting – it’s the whole point. It’s why people need to be very careful about how they construct their lives, and not blindly ape a marketing slogan when doing so has extraordinarily important consequences.

      • Brad Simpson
        Brad Simpson says:

        To all those princesses that tsk tsk at this woman’s opinion: grow up. If you want to stay in denial about Lean Inifestyle consequences, do not get your knickers in a twist when someone dares to give their honest opinions.

  7. Jim B
    Jim B says:

    Clearly your assertion is having a a polarising effect in the comments Penelope, but kudos to you for putting it out there. People have a right to privacy and I don’t think they are obligated to disclose what has happened outside of the family. However, that isn’t going to stop speculation. Whatever the tragic circumstances it just goes to show that life is precious and fragile.

  8. Richard
    Richard says:

    you are most probably correct; he killed himself and the family is too ashamed to report that fact; complicating this is the fact that there may be an embarrassing underlying cause such as criminal or mental health related issues.

    • Grace
      Grace says:

      I think there is nothing wrong with trying to protect someone’s legacy, especially when that person is one half of a famous couple like Sandberg-Goldberg. However, it feels like manipulation of the media when the person reporting that Dave Goldberg died overseas when the couple was on vacation is from Sandberg’s boss, Mark Zuckerberg.

    • Lucille A Bunz
      Lucille A Bunz says:

      Maybe cartel kidnapped for ransom. They have been active around Four Seasons. Mexican government would cover up for fear of losing tourism.

  9. ruth stoops
    ruth stoops says:

    You’re a sad lady. If I prayed, I’d pray for you.
    I hope nothing like this ever happens to you, so tha you can know what this kind of speculation will mean to the child who might read your blog later. Even if it was suicide, Lean In had nothing to do with it. It’s called depression.

  10. asdf
    asdf says:

    I think most of us would vastly prefer a husband who “leans in” to one that beats us.

    • Tom
      Tom says:

      Yes, because that’s the only choice. There’s no other kind of husband than those two.

  11. Julie
    Julie says:

    I would guess that business reporters are working hard on this story at the moment: Mr. Goldberg was the CEO of a company in which early investors had recently cashed in a large number of shares.

    Since the company is public, the shareholders have an interest in finding out if his death had anything to do with problems in the business. Mr. Goldberg was not a ‘private citizen’. He had a duty to the investors in his company.

    Sympathy for his family members – who I’m sure are heartbroken, and are presumably not at fault in his death – should not interfere with an appropriate and public investigation.

    I think it’s disurbing the way so much of the media is tip-toeing around the issue.

  12. Jack
    Jack says:

    The omission, by every media outlet, and unwillingness to even acknowledge the omission, is bizarre. Anyone who reads obits will notice that. It also tells you how in step the media is with elitists like Sandberg and her husband (RIP). I wish Sheryl peace as she recovers from her loss.

    • Grace
      Grace says:

      The Washington Post usually mentions if the deceased had any connection to the paper. But I haven’t seen any mention anywhere in their coverage that Dave Goldberg used to be on the board of Graham Holdings, the former owner of the post before Jeff Bezos, the head of Amazon.

  13. JG
    JG says:

    I am truly sorry for Sheryl’s loss and the tragedy she is enduring. I cannot imagine what she is going through.
    I think the reason that this post was written and resonates is that we have all have had to endure the “lean in” brand over the last several years whether we wanted to or not. For many of us, we thought we wanted the Sheryl Sandberg life, but little things went wrong and circumstances didn’t quite fall in place or our instincts lead us to make other choices. For many of us the “lean in” brand made us feel worse about not having it all, even if we found a pretty good way of living life.
    I don’t think it really matters how her husband passed, the point is that she is dealing with an unexpected life event and we cannot imagine what that is like. I that will possibly make her more relatable to the masses of people who are exposed to her message. I send her condolences, and thank Penelope for this conversation.

  14. Huffmaco
    Huffmaco says:

    Well congratulations – you have now written the most offensive and mean-spirited piece of bullshit on the internets. Which is not an easy accomplishment. I can’t help but speculate about what must have happened to *you* in your life that would lead you to write something like this.

  15. Smerk
    Smerk says:

    Its odd that the same night. Goldberg died, a “wealthy unnamed tourist” was found dead in mysterious circumstances at London’s Dorchester Hotel. All the reports say “reportedly (as in not confirmed) an arab” Two men were arrested over the death.

  16. Michelle
    Michelle says:

    I love to read everything what Penelope writes. Not this one. Knowing what losing someone you love, with your entire body and soul means, I believe no matter what, talking about this issue is very insensitive and disrespectful. I did not read the blog entirely. I did not see the value. The world still goes ’round whether we know more about this topic or not. Nothing warrants the intrusion in their privacy. We should get busy solving real issues in this world. If I would have Penelope’s talent I would use it differently. Dave Goldberg not being alive any longer, is causing so much pain, at least to the immediate family. This pain is felt only when one goes through similar loss. Until then one does not have a clue how it feels and should refrain from dissecting the subject. I will not unsubscribe, since I still admire Penelope’s writing, however, please think harder next time you blog about a topic so sensitive, something so tragic.

  17. Ganesh Johnson
    Ganesh Johnson says:

    A lot of readers are slamming Penelope here, and want her to respect the “privacy” of Sheryl Sandberg. What I find funny is that these same people did not mind when Sandberg regularly shared, what for most common people, are fairly private moments in their life. For e.g. there’s an April 22 post on FB where Sandberg “congratulates” her husband for his accomplishments at SurveyMonkey. Couldn’t she do that at home?! I mean for god’s sake, they met each other every evening at home. Heck, my wife is NEVER gonna congratulate me for my accomplishments (no matter how insignificant they seem in comparison to the Goldberg/Sandberg duo) on a public platform – she gets to meet me every evening. She can do so in the privacy of my home. I agree with some people here who have mentioned that if Sandberg deserved privacy, that time has been long past. She contributed to getting people interested and curious in her own life and the minute details of her family. There’s no putting the lid back on this thing.

    • Vman
      Vman says:

      Thank you Ganesh.

      Writing a book humble-bragging about how wonderful my marriage is and sharing multiple private details of my life down to my family’s hourly schedule, and having it extolled all over the Media, is just fine and dandy.

      But wanting more information about how her apparently healthy 47-year old CEO husband who was very much a Public Figure is his own right, died – other than “unexpected” or “Passed away Suddenly” – is an invasion of Privacy.

    • Jackie
      Jackie says:

      Good point Ganesh, why put all that for the public to see. Don’t they see each other at home.
      I have some friends would do that on Facebook and I always wonder why don’t you tell him/her at home. The true is when I see them at lunch they would talk bad about their marriage and how unhappy they are.

  18. Nancy
    Nancy says:

    i am disgusted by this post. A woman more worried about her message and image than the loss of her partner and her grieving children. I think this post is pathetic.

  19. None
    None says:

    The CEO of a firm valued at $2 billion died suddenly and there has been no explanation.

    The spouse of a COO at a publicly traded firm valued at $235 billion died suddenly and there has been no explanation.

    Delaying is irresponsible business journalism. Insiders who know may already be shorting Facebook in anticipation of the news.

    Why not just admit that he couldn’t take being dumped after all he did for her? First wives always get shafted when their spouses see better opportunities. It’s not nothing new.

    • redrock
      redrock says:

      not sure why not publishing cause of death is such a huge journalistic omission. This information will have very little impact on the standing of his company, the shares may plummet a little for a day or two and this is it. He will be missed by his family and friends but the cause of his death unless it was a politically motivated homicide, is of no impact on any significant political or economic impact. So, the journalistic duty to report on his cause of death is only to satisfy curiosity.

  20. Sydney
    Sydney says:

    I sometimes click on Penelope’s posts and then click off but save them to read later. This one I read all the way through because it was pertinent to my own life and, I thought, very thoughtful. First, I suffer from depression and “suffer” is the right word for anyone whose brain turns against them as depression causes one’s brain to do. I am lucky that it is hormonal and tied very closely to my period so when I slip down the dark slimy well and feel so bad that I contemplate how great it would be not to be alive one minute longer, the intellectual part of my brain reminds me that in four days I’ll be climbing out of the well and feeling so much better. I am not myself for at least a full day but for me knowing it is temporary saves me. I am on anti-depressants and still have this horrible dip once a month. I cannot imagine the pain of those who feel depressed 24/7 and congratulate them on the tenacity to stay alive.
    Secondly, the lean in stuff. I have been waiting for my very busy husband to have time for me and for our kids for 23 years. I leaned in and became a good mom (I think) but also an employee and servant of the house and the husband. I finally realized last year that I was numb and told him I wanted to separate because he was so comfortable with the situation that he was never going to be my companion. I realized I was going to die waiting for him. Yes, my career went on hold for years after having two children within 2.5 years. Yes, I can’t seem to get my earning power back even though they are now 16 and 18. Yes, husband’s career is going gangbusters because I leaned and leaned and leaned. I think I understand now that if only one person leans, then that person simply falls over eventually. Hoping to right myself this year, hoping not to be bitter that husband now has found time in his schedule to do fun things with our kids and to date (!), go to book groups, live a full life. Yup, working hard on the not being bitter part. But hey, I got the family dog and he is awesome!! I hope Sheryl rebuilds her life and protects her children, whatever the cause of Dave’s death. Nothing can be done about it now except learn from it.

  21. L Fitzgerald
    L Fitzgerald says:

    You “don’t have any evidence that it was a suicide,” yet you feel completely free to speculate that it was. Having a blog doesn’t give you license to offer an online analog to pure gossip. Oh wait, guess you hoped for “traffic.” Good job.

  22. esmeralda
    esmeralda says:

    I have to agree that the lack of cause of death at 3 days and counting is odd, and Sheryl Sandberg is certainly media savvy enough to realize that silence like this is only going to fuel speculation–of which this blog is a prime example.

  23. Porter
    Porter says:

    I think it’s pretty silly to jump to this conclusion, and to write it in such lecherous, offensive prose, when there’s hundreds of possibilities you don’t know. For instance, they were on vacation. It could have been some senseless, tragic accident, perhaps one they are embarrassed to disclose.

  24. candyvines
    candyvines says:

    Penelope Trunk – mean-spirited, speculative blog post about Dave Goldberg’s death? I think she’s bipolar.

  25. Marissa
    Marissa says:

    1) This post makes more sense once you mention you’ve never lost a spouse or parent. That’s clear from the way this is written.
    2) Is it possible you are looking for a way to explain why “lean in” doesn’t work, or that “lean in” has consequences – and you are using his death and your suspected cause of it – to justify that point? There are many reasons why lean in is problematic. A smarter, more compassionate, way to make that point might be to just write a post about all the reasons why it’s problematic…not a post speculating on someone’s very personal, very traumatic, loss.

  26. chris
    chris says:

    Dear God, people need to get a grip & a life instead of combing over every word in this article with a fine tooth comb. It was a good article and a fresh perspective. Leave it at that.

  27. anonymous 2
    anonymous 2 says:

    Just want to add something here that none of you has yet mentioned…

    Suicide is not necessarily always mental illness. Sometimes it’s a choice based on medical condition or forthcoming medical condition.

    If David (who is about a year older than I am) had been diagnosed with some horrible and untreatable thing – say that awful early onset alzheimer’s disease – he might have gone to Switzerland and taken advantage of their physician assisted suicide law.

    It happens. And honestly if this was the case, it is kinder than the alternative.

    We treat our suffering pets better than we do ourselves and our families in allowing them to die with dignity and before things become too bad.

    If this is his situation, then his children will remember him healthy and well, not decrepit and dying slowly of something no one could do anything about.

    This, if true, has nothing to do with leaning in. But even if it did, it’s sad.

    Penelope, I’m glad you shine lights as you do, because asking questions is one of the few ways of finding Truth; whatever form it may take.

  28. Jana Miller
    Jana Miller says:

    I respect people who talk about marriage and child raising after they are done -when they are old-you don’t really know about life until after you have weathered many storms.

    What a sad story for everyone involved. And yes I found it strange that no other details about the death were disclosed.

  29. Marie
    Marie says:

    Since we are surmising, I have to wonder why someone would travel to another country and commit suicide shortly after his arrival. One possibility is legal euthanasia. In many Western European countries, I believe, medical euthanasia is legal. Suppose DG found that he was suffering from a terrible disease, and he wanted an out. This could also account for SS’s quick return to the US. If everything had been planned out, she would know that, once the deed was done, she would have to quickly return home to be with her children. (And, by the way, I find ANY suggestions that other people, regardless of the hours they do or don’t work, are responsible for a suicide to be horrible.)

    • suicidal sometimes
      suicidal sometimes says:

      Having to deal with some level of suicide ideation, I can definitely assure you that suicidal people -will- go to overseas holidays to do the act. Either for privacy and/or opportunity to not disclose as suicide.
      It also depends on where the act took place. Some places have dangerous spots (ie mountains), or take a lot of pills/drink then go to the beach late at night. Some people also don’t want their spouse or children or coworkers to find them so they have to do it where there is definitely no one there such as in a hotel room in another city or another country. I’ve had some suicide ideation myself before a couple of vacations.

  30. Ignorant
    Ignorant says:

    So much ignorance on this thread, it’s unreal.

    My father died of a brain aneurysm. It took a week for the autopsy report to come back.

    Shame on all of you. Despicable.

  31. molly
    molly says:

    It is perfectly within bounds to speculate on the cause of anyone’s death..let alone a public person who has, with a partner, made friends, part of a career and a good deal of money dispensing public advice.

    Anything is possible. If long air flights were involved, along with stasis, alcohol (even a few glasses of wine) and a bit of excess weight, pulmonary embolism is a prime candidate. This is particularly true if coupled with large, opulent meals and lack of sleep or a burst of energetic sex or a terrible argument.

    In the Jewish tradition, burial must be within 48 hours. If authorities had no reason to hold Ms. Sandberg, she may have returned to be with their children, who may have been brought to a safe, private location. She may have returned immediately…she could no longer help her husband. It is also true Mr. Sandberg may have been cremated, a wife’s prerogative, though contrary to Jewish tradition.

    Of course, there is a long laundry list of possible other causes of sudden death…likely we shall not ever know unless one of the two sides of this families wants to make it public.

    It is clear this is a man who courted a woman for years and years and years…until she finally decided to “pick” him to start a family with. In some of the descriptions, it sounded as though he was a pretty decent human being who was, perhaps, the less powerful of the couple, who, despite his own wonderful professional achievements, decided to help his wife (we must presume voluntarily in some sense) in every possible way.

    We never, ever know what really happens between two people.

    What worries me more than all of this, is that the “media” appears to not to be pursuing the story as they normally might.
    I am not speaking of sensational muck, but normal, first rate reporting. The thought of this control by forces unknown and unseen, but who clearly have frightening influence over news outlets…now that is something to worry about.

  32. Flaneuse
    Flaneuse says:

    I don’t follow Silicon Valley news and had never heard of this guy – but I’m interested because of this unusual departure from standard journalistic practice. Why not disclose the cause of death? Heart attack or aneuryism is determined pretty quickly. Suicide is a possibility, but I’m thinking it’s something more uncomfortable/ embarrassing, such as a drug overdose; a stupid accident (of the should-have-known-better variety); or something like autoerotic asphyxia (typically an accident).

  33. Josephine
    Josephine says:

    Once thing is for sure, you certainly haven’t experienced the death of a spouse or a child or a loved one, and you are spinning an unethical little web net that will catch other flies like you.

  34. Ken Koense
    Ken Koense says:

    Not that you care, because ridiculous speculation, when it comes to the death of people you generally don’t know, or disagree with, is cause celeb for those with little empathy in their lives, but perhaps this rankles me more than most, given that my youngest brother died, in his sleep, and autopsy results were days from being released one, and two wouldn’t change the known facts; he’s dead.

    I do want to enlighten you and the rabble that consume your insipid site, that perhaps his faith, and care of his family, prevented them from giving a rats patoot what you thought you needed, or your suspicion that suicide, or “Leaning In” killed the man.

    So here, check this link, and perhaps learn some empathy, and quit being a troglodyte.


    “Respect for the dead body is a matter of paramount importance. For example, the shomerim may not eat, drink, or perform a commandment in the presence of the dead. To do so would be considered mocking the dead, because the dead can no longer do these things.

    Most communities have an organization to care for the dead, known as the chevra kaddisha (the holy society). These people are volunteers. Their work is considered extremely meritorious, because they are performing a service for someone who can never repay them.

    Autopsies in general are discouraged as desecration of the body. They are permitted, however, where it may save a life or where local law requires it. When autopsies must be performed, they should be minimally intrusive.”

  35. Lean in still worth it
    Lean in still worth it says:

    This blog post kind of sucks.

    However regardless of whether or not it was suicide (if there was even a public announcement) I think it’s important to consider that Shit Happens in life and that you have to deal with it, regardless if you are anti- or pro- ‘Lean In’ (or whatever you consider yourself as).

  36. Laura
    Laura says:

    Agree with others here who commented that the family themselves may not yet know the cause of death. I believe in these cases it’s best not to speculate until a cause of death is made public. While suicide is possible, so are many other things. However – Penelope is not a journalist working for a media company. She’s a blogger, and while journalists should not speculate, she is not held to that journalistic standard and doesn’t pretend to be.

    Before we can think about any possible “Lean In” connections, I’d argue that it’s important to wait until we know the facts.

    • Kevin Wagner
      Kevin Wagner says:

      How about hold her to the standard of “It’s none of your business to pry into someone’s grief?”

      • Tom
        Tom says:

        Why not hold newspapers to that standard? Oh, that’s right, because we value news and expert opinion more than we do easy, lazy “How dare you say that” shaming.

  37. Mike
    Mike says:

    Way to use someone else’s tragedy to further your own interests. This is a cheap ploy for more clicks. I’m sure it’s easier to attack someone else’s ideas (and family dynamics) than it is to have your own ideas. I’m usually a huge fan of this blog, but wow did you miss the mark on this one.

  38. TW
    TW says:

    What I love best is that you keyword-optimized this. You know that people are googling “david Goldberg cause of death,” so you made that the title. Why wait until the body is cold to cash in on the traffic?

    Now THAT is Leaning In.

  39. Kevin Wagner
    Kevin Wagner says:

    Who cares what you want to know, Trunk or anyone else? It none of your business, period. She wrote a book and dispenses advice. Listen to/read her at your option. Nothing discharges you to demand a thing about her personal life or her husband’s.

  40. ideation sometimes
    ideation sometimes says:

    Before someone goes “shame on you” maybe put yourself in the shoes of someone who is suicidal have some sort of suicidal ideation or thoughts. Committing suicide or thoughts about committing suicide while on overseas vacation is not unheard of.

  41. CA
    CA says:

    Sounds like a heart attack some time in the night, or early in the morning. Night time heart attacks happen just when getting up, either to go to the bathroom, or the first thing in the morning. The cause of the death cannot be determined until an autopsy is performed. The autopsy will take more than a couple of days.

    The heart attack could be of two different types – a congestive heart failure, or heart arrhythmia. The autopsy would find the possible cause of the death. So I believe that the wording by the Goldberg/Sandberg family was the correct wording to use.

    They could have described the event in detail (which is what they would have done to the police – and yes when an unexpected death occurs, there is always a police report) But if anybody did that to the media, I would consider it tacky in the extreme. I consider Penelope’s article coming from an ignorance of the events that occur after an unexpected night time death.

  42. Dan S
    Dan S says:

    On the surface, it is easy to see why some folks who are offended by Penelope’s article – this is a terrible a tragedy after all, who wouldn’t respect their privacy? However, if it is a suicide, it is an even greater tragedy if this detail is covered up in the name of PR. Sheryl Sandberg is a public figure who campaigned for years on her marriage as being a model for the rest of us. If a side effect of the model is, uh, suicide. Well, then – it is an important, difficult and necessary conversation to have. As those of you know who have lost a friend or family member to suicide, all too often they don’t reach out for help and more than often it is too late. Even in 2015, American “if you’re not first, you’re last,” society very much stigmatizes mental health problems. It is very much a taboo, it is more way more offensive that our culture wants to about sweep mental health topics under the rug.

  43. Marc
    Marc says:

    Some perspective:

    I don’t know if P. is right or not. It is an interesting perspective and seems plausible at this point.

    Most of the critical commenters here seem to read too literally into P arguing “leaning in” may have caused this. Give P. some credit for a reasonably good understanding of mental illness.

    Also, she deserves some credit for understanding a family that dealt with suicide in a rather unhealthy way for the “benefit of the children”.

    • redrock
      redrock says:

      who is to define what is the “healthy” way to deal with a tragedy? It can be very different for each of us, and we all have the right to make that decision for ourselves. I never felt that in the book “lean in” that I was told that I had to be a certain way – it is a personal account of someone who made certain decisions, and described that we can reach where we decide to go by “leaning in” or, respectively, staying true and advocating for our decisions. The book clearly describes Sheryl Sandbergs solutions but nowhere does it say that they are to be applied to everybody. The book is encouraging to stay true and pursue your own decisions, being at home, or being a professional.

  44. May Lavinia
    May Lavinia says:

    I think you have figured it out. Just as with Andrew Getty’s death the news here in SF area and from the Chronicle is sparse. Apparently the family and business (money) were able to quash all information they wanted held secret.
    If it is suicide it is an important part of his life. It does nothing to shame him – as secrecy surely does – or besmirch his character or life story. On the contrary; it serves to make him even more human and, well, lovable. That someone with so much positive and enviable in his life can have demons rising to the level where only suicide is the solution shines another needed light on depression and mental instability. Too long suicide has been associated with shame as has depression with weakness. I hope his wife has the courage to tell the truth. She is setting a very bad stage for her children.

  45. Barbara Gayle
    Barbara Gayle says:

    What does it matter to you? Death at such a young age no less suicide or overdose is a horrible event for any family to face. Give them space and respect their privacy. Society loves to bring people down when they are vulnerable but in the process they bring themselves down as well. Do something worthwhile with your time please.

  46. Harry P Wolfe
    Harry P Wolfe says:

    I have great empathy for what the family is going through. May David Goldberg rest in peace and may his family have the support and time they need to recover from this horrible incident.

    I am one of those who was curious about the cause of death and some journalist was eventually going to speculate on the cause of death. Penelope happened to be the first one to do so.

    While it may be a stretch to link the passing of Dave Goldberg to the “Lean-in Franchise” critics of it are bound to link the two. As a part of the public discourse, it would be worthwhile to discuss the matter and either dismiss the linkage, provide support for it or simply have a more nuanced discussion of the circumstances that led to this untimely passing of someone who seemed to be a fine person.

  47. jay
    jay says:

    Or perhaps they don’t know the exact cause – could be an diagnosed condition, sleep apnea, heart attack, brain aneurysm.

« Older CommentsNewer Comments »

Comments are closed.