Podcast #98 The Experience of the Hospice Doctor’s Widow: An Art Journal of Love and Loss – Jennifer O’Brien, Author and Artist

Jennifer and I talk about this rare treat of the book she created! Intimate, never preachy; concrete but not a self-help book; art-sy but so much more; personal yet applicable to so many. I love this book, in which Jennifer explores the death of her husband and her own survivorship, through the facts and the feelings of the experience.


Find Jennifer on IG


Diane Hullet: Hi, I’m Diane Hullet and welcome to the Best Life Best Death podcast. Today is my guest. I’ve got an author who’s got a really unusual and beautiful book that I can’t wait to share with you, so welcome Jennifer O’Brien. 

Jennifer O’Brien: Thank you, Diane. It’s a pleasure to be here with you. 

Diane Hullet: It’s really neat. We sort of found each other on Instagram, which is one of those great kind of.

Places where you can run into people who are kind of thinking along the same lines about these end of life issues. And your name kept popping up and your handle on Instagram is Hospice Doctor’s Widow. And I was very intrigued by that. Say, say a little bit about how you came to that name and then we’ll get into your book.

Jennifer O’Brien: Yeah, sure. I, I, I dunno how I came to that name except that it just came when I was. Putting the, I was, I had finished up the journal and it looked like I, I needed to try to get it published. That’s another story, but and so I needed a title for it and I really liked the sort of cadence to the hospice doctor’s widow a journal.

And I’m not a hundred percent sure if I had it to do all over again, if I would name it that. I do like the sound of it, but people are very confused as to what it is. Right, 

Diane Hullet: right. It’s interesting how much a name these days really. It is really powerful. Well, I, I’ll hold it up for anybody who’s watching the video cuz we, we were just talking about how we thought we’d put this up on YouTube.

So the book is called The Hospice Doctor’s Widow A Journal. And when I ordered it, I was so delighted because it’s an oversized book, you know, you kind of expect it to be just a normal paperback kind of thing and it’s really an oversized. Almost more like a coffee table book is a funny way to put it.

And, and what Jennifer has done is this incredible combination of her experience of her husband’s dying and her work as an artist and put it together in this collage journal kind of way that gives you both. The facts of what was happening in their lives, but also so profoundly the feelings of what was happening.

So I was just smitten the minute I opened the book because of that combination. So, you know, I sort of, it’s like I wanna ask you, like, so, you know, tell us about your art, your husband, and the creation of this book. You know, it’s like this one giant question. So, I don’t know where you wanna begin. I mean, in some ways it helps to lay a little groundwork about your husband and what his work was because that’s such a piece.

So yeah, huge piece. 

Jennifer O’Brien: Start wherever you wish. I would love to start with talking about my husband. His name was Bob Lemberg. He had been a plastic and reconstructive surgeon for a long time, long before I met him. But a neck injury meant that he could no longer operate without excruciating pain. And so he decided to retrain in hospice and palliative medicine, and I met him.

He was a couple years into it, absolutely loving it. It was important when I met him that what, what he did was so important to me because I had already lost my only sibling and my mother and I knew how important the work that he did was is and, and so yeah, besides, he was super cute and. Funny and all that good stuff that makes, you know, makes your heart go pitter-patter.

And so he fell crazy in love. And and yeah, that’s a big, and I’m a self-taught artist. That’s my. What I sort of do for my peace of mind and on the side and I’m in healthcare administration otherwise. And so that after we’d been married a few years when, and he’s on, he was on faculty at our med center here in Little Rock.

He found a couple of lumps on the left side of his neck. And then after some diagnostics, you know, we learned it was a stage four. Already metastatic to his thoracic spine and so forth. And we, neither of us had children, so I was it, I was his caregiver. And doctors don’t always make the best patients.

We had certain struggles with that. But we also had some advantages not the least of which was the wisdom that, you know, he would impart on his patients and their families. And we had talked about for years. And so that wisdom now we were turning on ourselves and I started doing these digital collages.

On the side I, I don’t even know if Bob knew ever knew I was doing a journal. I transitioned at that point from analog collage to digital collage, which was quite a uphill battle but worth it. And then yeah, I kept this journal. I, I, I documented my thoughts and feelings and his wisdom, as I said, and, and, and a lot of it.

First is a collage, and then the note, you know, of my thought or feeling or experience, g kind of gets written on top of the collage layers. And so yeah, so, so it was, it was never intended to be a book. It was purely for my own self-care. He lived for 22 months after his diagnosis. We thoroughly.

Thoroughly prepared for his death and my survivorship. And you know, my hypothesis is that, that there’s going to be grief. We want that grief to come from love and sadness. Not from despair and consternation and regret and remorse, and I really feel like Bob and I achieved that. Because every last thing we did, we really did.

There were two very small things that I didn’t think, I didn’t think to put the utilities in my name, I didn’t think to. I thought to record the passwords. And I thought I had, I thought I knew all the formulas, but I, I had not. That’s the other takeaway. Write it down because grief brain is a real thing and, you know, anyways, so, so I, so I, I kept the journal, I kept going with it after he died a little bit.

But it’s mainly about before he died and, and then after he died, I took, I do a lot of interim CEO eing for large physician practices. And I was doing that for a very large multispecialty practice. Neurologist I worked with was in the process of diagnosing three different patients with a l s and I brought my journal into him.

And he took it home and came back the next day and said, you’re not getting your journal back. I will loan it to these patients and you better figure out how to get it published. And I did, I found a small independent publisher. And as you said, it’s an unusual book. It is. It is eight by 10 and it is only 85 pages and it’s premium color.

It’s a picture book about taking care of someone you love before they die. And, and I, and I think that’s 

Diane Hullet: part of 

Jennifer O’Brien: how it’s been successful in terms of being able to help people. Because when you’re in that situation, you can’t read a chapter book. You, you just don’t have it in you, you, you, you are doing everything you can to keep your person comfortable and you know, there’s just, the weight is so heavy.

That a book that you can flip open and get a gem from and then close, or a book that you can sit down and read cover to cover in a matter of a couple of hours. This is what you need. And so that’s, yeah, I think that’s been part of its success. 

Diane Hullet: I think so too. Let me just read a couple of things people have said about it because I think this is so interesting.

One person says, although altogether different from the many books which address grief and loss from psychological or philosophical points of view, the hospice doctor’s Wi Widow is a collage of experiences, documents. Tips and those thoughts many have, but few acknowledge O’Brien singularly moving in beautiful book maps, one Woman’s Journey illuminating the Road that lies ahead for all of us.

I thought that was just such a gorgeous, that’s Nina Corwin L L C S W, author of the Uncertainty of Maps. Just a gorgeous, gorgeous tribute to this because. I don’t know. I love that you started it as a personal thing for you, and I think that’s probably why it feels so authentic and so genuine. And then you discovered it was kind of a useful tool for others because, you know, I think it’s interesting to kind of point out to people who haven’t read it yet.

It’s like you include things like a, a few emails that went out to extended family and you include your husband’s obituary and like, these are ways that there are facts in the book. But then there’s this very moving moment, just a little ways in where you say, today is the first day I took the trash out since my husband’s diagnosis.

And it’s those kind of really little intimate glimpses into how grief impacts us that I was just so struck by. 

Jennifer O’Brien: Yeah, no, that’s, that’s exactly right. You start to, you start to mark things from. The time at which you got the diagnosis or before or after the person died. That’s, that’s how life events get marked.

And sometimes they’re really just the simple, you know, chores. 

Diane Hullet: Yeah, you make a point on one on one page, you say, I have to be really careful so that our situation doesn’t get worse because I’ve been in a car wreck or sliced my hand while cutting, you know, vegetables for a salad. And those kinds of thoughts are so important, right?

That to somehow to capture that in this kind of artistic way, I think. Was is it’s just really quite a gift. And I, I thought about it. I thought, well, is this something you would give to somebody who’s at the beginning of this journey? Or do they want it in the middle or is it something you give them afterwards and they go, oh, I can relate.


Jennifer O’Brien: Well, I’m so glad you brought that up because yes, that has been a big, a big issue there. Has Bec and I, you know, I talked about the title because of the title. There are some people who automatically make it a grief book, and that’s fine. There are people who have already lost their person, who have gotten great benefit from the book.

There’s no question about it. I, but one of the hardest things for me to hear from people is when they say, I wish this book had been around when my mother was ill, when my husband was, you know, when my husband was ill. So I want people to get it sooner rather than later. You know, there, there is, we’re all going to die.

If we’re lucky enough to love someone they may die before us. And four out of five of us are going to die following illness not, you know, sudden, sudden death. So it’s really got a universal universality to it. But a lot of people are also really my favorite is when they say, well, Because of the title.

You know, if I give her your book, then am I telling her that her husband is dying? And I’m like, yeah, no, I’m pretty sure she knows deep down. But I have, even as the author of the book, I have had that moment of like, is this person ready? And so what I do is I I’d rather, I’d rather them have it and not look at it, right?

I did my part, I know it, I know this is a useful tool. So I’m just gonna give it, I typically will wrap it. And say this is, you know, when you have a minute to yourself open this up. This is one woman’s story, right? This is not prescriptive. This is my story and my journal. It just so happens there’s a lot in it that folks in that situation will benefit from.

And so be it and don’t. Don’t ask follow up. That’s the, when you give a book, especially like this as a gift, you know, we’re not looking for a book report. Do not say later, oh, did you read it? No, no, no, no. That’s not, that’s a gift. That’s not how that works. So, but they will, they’ll flip through it and, and it some point, and I’ve gotten, one of the wonderful things I’ve received is when people forward me, The thank you notes that they got when they gave it to someone who was in the situation of taking care of a loved one.

Diane Hullet: Yeah, I keep flipping pages. That’s probably loud for the microphone. One of the pieces that I really liked in it. You’ve got some, some wisdom from Bob in it that’s so touching and I love this you, I’m gonna read this whole page. As a physician working at a world renowned treatment center, he cares for patients and families from all over the world.

Sometimes patients are too sick to make the trip home and have to die in our town. That always breaks his heart. He is glad to be part of a center of excellence, but several times a year he comes home from work saddened. I just can’t get this patient home to die. He says he understands the desire to travel for the best care, but he’s always troubled when people push it a little too long or have a complication and have to be away from their community when they die.

So there’s these gems like that in the book, and you talk about how he was hesitant, even as a hospice doctor, he was sort of hesitant to sign up for hospice in part because he was very private and everybody knew him. And yet finally you kind of say to him, Hey, look. I need hospice. I need the back of the backup of hospice sort of standing behind me.

And so he’s like, oh, oh, you’re right. This isn’t about me. This is also about your experience. And so he does get on hospice, but he’s not on super long before he does die. 

Jennifer O’Brien: Yeah. Yeah. I think you’ve brought up, you’ve raised two really important items there. One in that travel for for care page. That’s an important one because people will be diagnosed with a terminal illness and they will get on the Google and start finding studies and this and that, and, you know, I, I’m all for it.

But what, what I’m not for is when they say, yeah, we’re gonna, we’re going to draw, we’re gonna fly to wherever, St. Louis or Nashville, or. LA for this treatment. And this is the classic, they kinda shrug and say, I mean, what do I have to lose as though. It’s a sentence, not a question that is a question, and the answer is, what you have to lose is a comfortable death in your home or community where your loved one who is taking care of you has that family and support and sense of community.

You know, at the time of your death. And, and, and that is so often in our society of just throw more chemo at it or, you know, we need to be deliberate about the, the, the end of life we need to be. And I don’t mean I’m not ta my, I’m not talking about any of the. Medical aid and dying, that sort of thing. We don’t do that here in Arkansas and I don’t really have a, a place in that discussion.

I’m just talking about being deliberate about a perfectly natural death and discussing where you want that to occur and, and who you want in the room and who you don’t want in the room. And we were so lucky that we did all that and we talked about that. And I knew exactly what he wanted and was able to make it all happen for him exactly how he wanted it.

But I would not have been able to do that if we hadn’t thoroughly discussed 

Diane Hullet: it and if you’d been at MD Anderson or, you know, and if I’d been, yeah, it just wouldn’t have been the same. Yes. I’m struck too, in your, in your journey, how cognizant both you and Bob were of the differences in your experience.

And you, you talk about that so clearly on a page where you say, we are having two different experiences. I. You probably know the quote. Yeah, yeah. Here it is. We are going through two different processes. He is dying and I am surviving. And I feel like you both held that and talk a little bit about how that impacted some of the decisions you made in those 22 months.

Jennifer O’Brien: Oh yeah. You know, you’re right. That’s so, that’s so, I’m so glad you, you asked the question that way. Absolutely. He we both, he just was incredibly thorough with planning and preparing every last detail of how my survivorship would go. I mean, Every last detail, you know, not micromanaging detail managing, Right, right.

You know, but 

Diane Hullet: thinking things through, thinking through what would matter and what needed to be, as you said, changed over to your name and you did this huge downsize. Yes. We 

Jennifer O’Brien: did, we lived in a huge house. It was beautiful. It was lovely. And he knew, he knew that I, I moved in there with him and he, he knew I would not do well in that house by myself.

And so we, yeah, we downsized it, we sold it, and we bought a beautiful condominium and we were able, To live here together for almost 10 months. So that was really wonderful. So I have wonderful memories of being in my condo with Bob. And we went one Dary December day, a couple of months before he died, we went up to the va human resources office.

Bob had worked for the VA administration as a physician for many, many years, and as a result, I was. I am eligible for all sorts of wonderful survivor benefits. But they’re pretty hard to get. I mean, it’s a lot of bureaucracy. He was a, because he knew everybody and was able to get the appointment scheduled, we went together and just such that everything just.

Fell into place the minute I, you know, the minute he died and I had his death certificate and could, could do that. And, and, and so there’s just almost not a day that goes by that I don’t have a little moment of thanks to him for for doing all of that because my life is just so much smoother. Because of all, all that we did together.

And we did it together. I mean, he, he just, he just had some. He just knew about some things that I just didn’t, you know, we certainly packed up the house and gave away lots of things and, and did, did those kinds of things together. But yeah, it was, it was, and, and, and what’s so, so wonderful there is that, you know, as I look back on, on my life with him and even the end of it, I have no.

Regret, oh, I wish we’d, you know, or, and I have no moment of being frustrated with him, right. Of, because that happens a lot to widows. And worse, you know, being just not, not assigning. The, the legacy contact on your iPhone, right? So like I’m in these widows groups and almost weekly a new widow will come on and say, I don’t have the access code to my husband’s iPhone, and I am I.

Every time you put in the wrong code, you’re that much closer to the whole thing shutting down. There’s no way to get the pictures and the videos, and they’ve become infinitely more important. Now that he’s dead and it, it is one of the most heartbreaking things that happens. So if you’re listening or watching you pick up that iPhone and go to settings and find your legacy.

Contact and set. Set a couple of them because people want your photos. Yes. And you know, you know, change their access code frequently. So you can say, oh, my wife knows my, or my daughter, or whoever knows my access code. But you may, you may have to change it for some reason. Set the legacy contacts 

Diane Hullet: in the phone.

I love that in the phone. And it’s photos. It’s also contacts. I mean, I think who, yeah, who got all those contacts? You, you, towards the end of the book, you make a great you make a great list. Let’s see if I can put my finger on that. You make a great list and, and really it’s like, this is what we did prepper.

Oh yeah. I love this. Preparations we made that were very helpful to me as the survivor. I thought that was so great. And then there’s only two things, as you said, what we didn’t do, but I wish we had put utilities in my name and document passwords to all technology. Those are the only two. So just that list alone is worth, you know, the price of admission for the book.

I’m, I’m struck though too, like the, The, the word that comes to mind when you talk about the way you and Bob went about this is really like thoughtful. Like it seems like he was thoughtful. Oh, he’s so thoughtful. You could have been left to figure this all out by yourself and you would’ve, but there just, I think there’s so much.

Challenge put on us at the time of grief and loss that as you said, you’ve got grief brain and then you’ve got all this bureaucracy to wade through. And as my husband said, when his mom died, he said, you know, the thing about a death is there are all these things you have to do that aren’t normal everyday things.

It, it isn’t, it isn’t the things we’re used to doing, it’s this whole new skillset and suddenly you have to do it in the middle of grief. 

Jennifer O’Brien: Yeah. Absolutely. It’s, yeah, and the layer of grief makes it all that much harder. There’s a really great app out now called Empathy. Are you familiar with empathy? No.

Tell us. Oh my goodness. Yeah. No, it’s a resource. It is, it is a, you know, with, on your, on your smartphone, you just download it free from the app store. There is, to get the most benefit out of it, there’s a monthly membership charge. But if you’re using apathy, I’m guess empathy, not empathy. Empathy. I 

Diane Hullet: like empathy.

Empathy. Empathy is where we can go, but let’s try empathy. Let’s try 

Jennifer O’Brien: empathy. If you’re using empathy you probably only need it for about six months, is my guess, because it gives you, you know, prompts as to what to do next. And there are human beings. That are available 24 7. Who, they had one, one story I know of in particular, cuz I’ve talked to the company quite a bit.

When I discovered them, of course I became fascinated, you know, will help bird dog life insurance checks because those can be really slow to come. And when you’re, when you’re the person who is bereaved and. Need that money right then it can be that much harder. But someone will, who will get on the phone with that life insurance company and say, you know, yeah.

They were able to get it down from the insurance company had initially said it would be six months and they got it in six weeks. So yes. Empathy, so, The 

Diane Hullet: empathy app services to help people move things 

Jennifer O’Brien: along. Yeah, I mean, and some of it, it also allows you to bring other people, other family members in, so you can delegate write tasks, they will help you write an obituary.

It’s, it’s a comprehensive tool that I don’t, you know, it wasn’t around when Bob died, but oh, I’m really happy. 

Diane Hullet: Yeah. Yeah. That’s fantastic. What a great tool. I, and I talked recently with help texts, H E L P T E. Yes. Ts, which is a little different, but it’s the idea of supporting people through grieving or care 

Jennifer O’Brien: grief.

Yeah. No, that’s help. Text is a wonderful tool. It’s cool. 

Diane Hullet: And it sounds like empathy is, is like a little more on the practical side, but Yeah. 

Jennifer O’Brien: All the tasks, all of the practical tasks. I mean, they are compassionate about grief. But because they know that’s what you’re going through. But this is really more the practical tasks at hand.

Diane Hullet: Get it done. I, you know, I think one of the things I wanna say to listeners is like, look into these things before you need them. Right. Like if you explore a little bit about what this empathy app is and you check it out, then two years from now when suddenly something happens, you, you might have that in your back pocket.

Cuz I just think there’s so much about this that we’re, we wait to do until we’re in this fire of grief and there’s something really powerful about it being ahead of time. And that’s what I think you and Bob did so beautifully. Yeah, 

Jennifer O’Brien: I’ll submit to you that it’s some of the greatest intimate intimacy you can achieve in a relationship is to get in there and ask the tough questions and listen to the answers, and then commit to carrying them out for the person you love.

You know, regardless of how they line up with what your own wishes for yourself might be right. There’s this, there’s this great, it’s just a great act of intimacy and love and some of our closest moments in our, in our time together came. Came during his illness as we were preparing now, we had had thorough discussion in the abstract about what our end of life wishes were.

I mean, You can’t be married to a palliative care doctor and not at least have that come up. Right. So yeah, we both talked about it and, and I, and I can strongly recommend that as well. Go ahead. You know, go ahead and have these conversations and, and while I say you can, har you can’t be married to a palliative care doctor and not have those discussions, I can tell you there are many who have.

Even palliative care doctors who have not done it. I mean, the statistics within our, our field are really no different than the larger population. So practice what you preach and, and do it. And I will tell you, you, you will get, achieve a closeness with your person that really, it really can’t be beat.

It’s so good. 

Diane Hullet: I remember a friend of ours people we knew when we were newly married many years later, the woman of the couple ended up getting a really difficult cancer diagnosis and lived for some time, but really it was so severe right from the get go. And I remember her husband saying after she had died, we talked to him maybe several months later and he said, you know, there was a closeness in that time that there wasn’t even a question of, like, there almost was no separation between her and I.

He said, I simply did everything I could, everything that she needed all the time, and what I wanted or wanted to have be different, didn’t even matter. It was about supporting her and that there was this level of I don’t know, just like deep care that he had for her that was so incredible to witness.

Jennifer O’Brien: It is incredible and it, it, and it’s, it, it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done and I’ve done some very, very hard things and, and yet the most fulfilling and, and you. Just the greatest act of love I’ve ever been able to demonstrate. And so it’s, it’s both of those things. I, I will say that the transition from caregiver to griever is a, is a tough one, even under the.

Best of circumstances, which I, I believe Bob and I achieved was the best of circumstances for me in that transition. And yet it was, it was extraordinarily difficult to have that be your whole, and yet then all of a sudden he’s gone and. Now I will say that knowing what he wanted in terms of disposition and his memorial, that helped a lot for two reasons.

One was grief, brain, back to grief. Brain, right? Like, I, I knew exactly what he wanted and some of it had already been prearranged, so I didn’t even have to, you know, think. But the other was continuing that role of doing for him, right? I was able to carry that out and demonstrate my love for him beyond his last breath.

So that was, and, and know, and know that I was doing it right because it, because he had told me what he wanted and I was doing exactly what he wanted. Well, 

Diane Hullet: the communication between the two of you I think was extraordinary. And then the ability to say this is his experience and this is my experience and they are different and we need to plan for both, was you just both managed to sort of be in it.

You know, you were just in the soup that was handed you, and I think so many of us wanna keep hopping out of the soup pot. And you guys, you, you two just really stayed 

Jennifer O’Brien: in. Yeah, no, it’s, it’s hard to be in it all the time and, you know, that’s when that hope for the best and prepare for the worst comes in and, and how important it is to.

To just be in tune with the other person. Are they having a really hopeful moment? Well, let’s not, let’s not bring up that we have to go sign the estate, you know documents. Let’s just enjoy the moment. And, you know, and get we, and we got it done. Either, either, both ways. Yeah. 

Diane Hullet: Yeah. Say a little bit about your creativity and how that may have kept shifting as you moved from caregiver to griever.

Jennifer O’Brien: Yeah, good question. You know, both were sort of hard, the both were at times dark and difficult. So I, I think they come from a similar place. When Bob was still alive, I think I was incorporating. A lot more of his wisdom as a palliative care physician. Interestingly, while Bob had dealt with death a lot as a professional he had not experienced it personally other than his own parents who lived into their nineties.

But that was it. He had not, I was the one who had all the personal experience with. With death of, you know, loved ones, so, So, yeah, it was, it was it was a little different. It, it, it, you know, honestly, the art as an outlet is, I, I, I just can’t recommend it enough because it, it involves the head and the heart and You can just work through some serious stuff just by figuring out kind of how to, and for me, you know, I’m not a painter or I can’t draw, so it’s all kind of cutting and pasting and all lodging.

Yes. Yeah. Yeah. Just bringing 

Diane Hullet: it all together. I know one friend who in her personal cancer journey, she ended up making a thick, thick journal. That was just what a what? A exquisite piece. I think it was just blank pages. But I mean, some of them were her rage and some of them were her joy, and it was just this incredible kind of companion for her through her chemo and radiation and so on, and she recommended that really highly as a way to keep going.

And I, I love that you have, that sounds like you’ve had that in your life, your whole life. No, 

Jennifer O’Brien: no, I haven’t. But, but I did, I did figure it out. Shortly after my mother died actually is when I started to discover collaging and so forth. I do if you visit my website and the resources page, there is a free download of five art journaling prompts, so Oh, neat.

Oh, fantastic. Yeah. Cause I really believe in, in the art. I mean, you just don’t have to be. An artist to Art journal. You really don’t. I love 

Diane Hullet: that. Let’s go ahead and say that what’s, what’s the website where people can find that? Yeah, 

Jennifer O’Brien: the website is Hospice Doctors Widow, and you can either spell out the word doctor or, or d r s do hospice doctors widow.com and the resources page is where you’ll be able to download the the art journaling prompts.

And I have, I have a number of really valuable, I think they’re valuable free downloads on that resource page. I have a. I, I have a position description for a family caregiver. As someone who has been in leadership in healthcare for a long time, I. I started to think about what if I had to hire for this position, right?

What would be in the position description? And and it is, it is very thorough and I think it serves well both the caregiver to have an idea of. What it is they’re called upon to do, to have an idea if it’s getting to be time to go back into the workforce and, and be able to describe what you’ve been doing.

And I, it’s incr, it’s been a real eyeopener to healthcare professionals to see. What it is we’re calling on family caregivers to do, cause it, it, it, it would not survive, you know, a collective bargaining agreement. It just wouldn’t. And then the other, the other download that I have there is called the at Peace Toolkit.

And it’s about, it’s a step-by-step How to get yourself ready for end of life and get some discussions started. So, wow, you have 

Diane Hullet: been busy and I just love how you brought all this together. And for those who are looking, I’ll show the at peace. I love that you’ve even got like an at peace jewelry.

Piece, which I think is so neat. 

Jennifer O’Brien: Have a nice, I do. I, the at piece really took off. It was it, you know, the youngsters dig the symbol. I’ve got, I’ve got some, some swag and merch on with the at peace. Symbol was about being at peace with end of life, but, People have sort of ex extrapolated and just like the idea of being at peace.

So yeah, it’s great. It’s a neat, it’s a neat symbol. 

Diane Hullet: Well, I think it’s just another expression of your creativity and I also feel like it’s worth, well, let’s say where people can find the book and talk a little. I mean, this book is won some beautiful awards. Yes. You know, in the category of Death, dying and Grief, a Nautilus Book award, indie book, award.

Independent publisher book award. I mean, it’s really making the rounds and how can people buy the book? 

Jennifer O’Brien: Well, listen, I want you to buy the book in whatever way is easiest for you, which means you can find it through my website and go directly to the publisher. You can, you can go to Amazon, you can go to Barnes and noble.com.

You could go to your local bookstore and. Have them order it for you. There’s a indie book, you know, network that is linked on my website also. It is, it is available in all major outlets and minor ones too. And if you order from the publisher, you’ll get assigned copy. So that’s kind of fun.

And I usually, I sign ’em on the last page of the book. But yeah, I, I’ve been Like I said, I don’t, I don’t care how you get the book. Just please, just please give it a try because it. It will help you and it will help someone you love. I promise you. I promise you that. Yeah. Yeah. And I’ve been, it was luck.

I was, I, I did submit it through several of the book award systems and it won in every system that I submitted it to. And the beautiful thing was it won in different categories which I, which I love. But I guess what I love the most is, Is that it’s helping people. You know? That’s really, that’s really the award.

Diane Hullet: That is really the award. Well, I, they are people I plan to give it to. I just think it’s such a neat way to come into a conversation about the end of life, death, grief, survivorship. In a way that’s not too overwhelming, it’s not preachy, it’s not a self-help book. It’s just as it says, one woman’s journey and kind of a map with some signposts that I think people will find really helpful.

Yeah. There’s, there’s a beautiful page in it where you say that there’s a poem that you and your husband Bob used to read to each other, and let’s just read a tiny bit of it. Do you wanna introduce that Jennifer? 

Jennifer O’Brien: Sure. It’s called the Deta and it’s by Max Armin, and it was written in 1927. Go Placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what piece there may be in silence as far as possible without surrender beyond good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly and listen to others. Even the dull and ignorant. Ignorant, they too have their story, avoid loud and aggressive persons. They are vaccinations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter, or always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans, and as you said it, it’s quite long. It’s worth it. Go find it and download it. And Bob and I used to have it in the bathroom and read it in the morning before getting ready to go to work, and I now have it in my bathroom. And I’m not sure I go through it line by line every single day, but it sure helps center, center me and, and focus me on, on what’s, what’s really, you know, good and right in life.

So, And it’s non-denominational for the most part. Yeah. I mean there, yeah, there is a reference to God in it, but it says, therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be. And so, yeah, it’s lovely. 

Diane Hullet: Keep going. Read, recommend, read the last couple. Read those last couple sentences from there, cuz I love that part too.

Jennifer O’Brien: Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be. And whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul. With all it’s sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be tearful, strive to be 

Diane Hullet: happy. Thank you so much to Jennifer O’Brien and her wonderful book, the Hospice Doctors Widow, a Journal.

Thanks for joining me today, Jennifer. And you’ve said your website, hospice doctors widow.com. You can find out about her book and some free downloads there, and you can find out about the work I do at Best life. Best death.com. Thanks for joining us today. I think this is really a unique book and I hope lots of people kind of pick it up.

Jennifer O’Brien: Thank you, Diane. I really appreciate that. Have a great 

Diane Hullet: day.

Diane Hullet

Diane Hullet

End of Life Doula, Podcaster, and founder of Best Life Best Death.