Events & Book Groups

When we share our stories, we co-create a space for healing.


Upcoming Events

Contact us online to inquire about scheduling Dr. Stern for your next event


Friday, February 24, 2023: Navigating from Vulnerability, Grief and Burnout to Empathy and Resilience at the Healthcare Burnout Symposium Conference, Los Angeles, CA

Thursday, October 28, 2021: Book event at M Judson Books, Greenville, South Carolina

Monday, October 18, 2021: Talk at Georgetown University Medical School

Thursday, August 5, 2021: Scuppernong Books Event in Greensboro, NC

Saturday, July 17, 2021: Hawaii Association of Professional Nurses (HAPN) – Caring Science Consortium: “Grief Connects Us”

May 11, 2021: Grief Connects Us release date

April 2021: One World Surgery medical mission trip to Honduras

September 2020: A Physician’s Journey to Emotional Agility. TEDx Greensboro talk

May 2019: My Continuing Medical Education: The Power of Human Touch, 40th Annual IAHC Conference (Podium Presentation), Cone Health Engagement Series: Grief as My Guide: Lessons From My Sister, 2019

April 6, 2019: Keynote Speaker, Palliative Care Colloquium. Moral Distress on Both Sides of the Bedrail: the Toll on Professionals and Family Members to “Do the Right Thing”, Archdiocese of Boston Video | Article

September 2018: On the Receiving End of Neurosurgical Care: Lessons I Have Learned, Presented at the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Michigan

November 13, 2018: Cone Health: Our Journey to Top Decile Physician Engagement, Presented with Mickey Foster and Jonathan Berry, MD at Press Ganey Annual Meeting, Orlando, Florida

May 21, 2019: Frankly Speaking About Cancer with Kim Thiboldeaux, Cancer Support Community

Speaking Engagements

Dr. Stern is an accomplished public speaker and is pleased to share his personal and professional experiences with grief and compassion with students, medical practitioners, the media, and the general public. Visit our Contact page to schedule Dr. Stern for your next event.

Book Groups

Dr. Stern is available to lead virtual book groups or speak at virtual book group meetings, and can be contacted here. He is also enthusiastic about supporting reader-led book groups and has provided a list of questions to help facilitate discussion.

Book Group Discussion Questions

Warm-up Questions

  1. What was your favorite part of this book?
  2. What was your least favorite part of this book? 
  3. How did reading this book impact you? Do you think it will make a lasting impression?
  4. What did you think of the author’s writing style? 
  5. Which passages did you re-read? What did you like about them?
  6. Did this book remind you of any other books? 
  7. Who do you most want to share this book with?

Intermediate Questions

  1. How did reading this book shape your thoughts on grief and mourning?
  2. What surprised you the most about this book? 
  3. How did your opinion of this book change as you read it? 
  4. If you could ask the author one question, what would it be? 
  5. Do you think this book’s title is appropriate? If you could give this book a new title, what would it be? 
  6. Would you ever consider re-reading this book? Why or why not? 
  7. What questions do you have after reading this book? 
  8. What did you already know about grief and loss before you read this book?
  9. What would you add to this book’s conversation (e.g. personal observation, professional experience, academic knowledge)?
  10. How do the topics discussed in this book affect your life? Do they affect your life directly or indirectly?

Advanced Questions

  1. What did you think of the book’s flow? Did you like how the author weaved together Victoria’s journal entries with his conversations with patients and colleagues? What would you have changed about this styling?
  2. Why do you think the author chose to address both patients & caregivers and medical practitioners in this book? Do you think the book benefits from addressing multiple audiences?
  3. How did this book make you feel about how you interact with others? Do you see opportunities for deeper connection in your relationships? What would this connection require?
  4. Did this book make you re-think how to approach the subject of death? Are there any changes you will make to how your family approaches talking about (or not talking about) death?
  5. Do you think palliative care is beneficial to our healthcare system? Would you like to see palliative care extended in the U.S.?
  6. Have you experienced the death of a loved one? What support system did you utilize (friends, family, church, etc.)? Did you feel like you were equipped to handle this loss? After reading this book, what do you think could have helped you feel more equipped?
  7. How do you use emotional agility in your life? Give some concrete examples and explain how emotional agility is beneficial in these situations.
  8. Why do you think the author says that compassion means to suffer “with” rather than “apart from” someone? What do you think suffering with someone would look like?
  9. How was the author’s emotional armor holding him back in his personal and professional relationships? How was he able to shrug off this armor?
  10. Do you agree or disagree with this statement: “Surgeons can’t always afford to be vulnerable.” Why or why not?
  11. Why does the author state that vulnerability is a critical part of developing emotional agility?
  12. Why does the author say that educating patients is critical for compassionate healthcare? What kind of education is he advocating for?
  13. Do you think doctors should feel safe to make mistakes? Why or why not?

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