An Evening with Jennifer O’Brien

June 22, 2023Doors open at 6pm. Show starts at 7pm.$35/ticket (includes dinner & the show). Cash bar. Location: The Joint Theater and Coffeehouse301 Main St, North Little Rock, AR 72114

With musical guest The Salty Dogs

Started as a lark retro-country act, the quartet immediately found chemistry, along with a lot of joy, as they dug into their craft. Their sound has expanded over a decade and a half, from uber-twang and purist classic country to equal parts 1954 Nashville, 1961 Bakersfield, and 1972 Everywhere.

Jennifer O’Brien encourages compassionate, real conversation about caregiving, legacy planning, and grief.

After years of caring for people with serious illness as a physician, Jennifer’s husband, Bob Lehmberg, was diagnosed with a stage IV, metastatic cancer. But caregiving for the man who had made a 40-year career of caregiving as a physician was not easy. When Jennifer’s husband was diagnosed and later after he died, she turned to what had brought her comfort for years—art journaling. She documented and depicted the raw, honest, beautiful and exhausting reality of caregiving through collage, tableaus, notes and observations.  She included much of the wisdom and perspective she learned from her husband in his years as a physician. Jennifer kept the journal during the 22 months she cared for Bob and for about a year and a half after he died.

Later, in a role as interim CEO of a large medical practice, Jennifer shared her journal with a neurologist who was in the process of diagnosing three patients with ALS, a terminal disease. The physician took the journal home, read it and returned the next morning to tell her, “You’re not getting your journal back, I will be loaning it to these three patients and their spouses. You need to figure out how to get that published because it helps close the gap between what I can do for the patient and what the family caregiver really needs.” Jennifer found that local, independent publisher Et Alia Press was willing to take a chance on this odd book. The book was published in February 2020 as The Hospice Doctor’s Widow: A Journal and has won four awards – a Nautilus silver award in the Death & Dying/Grief & Loss category, a Next Gen Indie Book gold for Relationships, an Independent Publishers (IPPY) bronze for Gift, and an International Impact Award for its Design. Perhaps most importantly, knowing her story has helped thousands is what drives Jennifer to continue to share it, support family caregivers, and encourage people to take a more active role in discussing and preparing for end of life. As she describes it, “Encouraging people to put #FamilyFirst even beyond their own last breath.”

For 35 years she has been a practice management educator of physicians and served as CEO for two large medical practices. She has authored over 55 articles and made hundreds of presentations. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Boston University and a master’s degree in organization development from Loyola University – Chicago.