Gabby Jimenez is an end-of-life educator, author and founder of The Hospice Heart, an online community that offers end-of-life support and resources. She offers online and in-person classes on providing compassionate care to those nearing the end of their journey. Gabby believes that she was meant to do this work, the path of life led her to helping others at the end of theirs, but it wasn’t until sitting by the bedside of a friend who was dying of cancer that she realized hospice care was something she needed to do.
At the age of 45, Gabby was managing commercial real estate and working with OSHA to create safety plans for buildings. In between projects, she was asked by the wife of a close friend who was dying of prostate cancer to come and stay with him while she worked. “I stayed with him day after day, I slept in the twin bed next to his twin bed, and I helped feed and bathe him. I watched the hospice team come in and I knew that this was something that I needed to do because I realized the importance of being present.” After he passed, Gabby completed an adult education program and became a caregiver and then later went to nursing school to become a hospice nurse.
In 2019, she created the Hospice Heart Facebook page, as a safe space for end-of-life conversations. The community was quickly engaged, but it wasn’t until the early days of the pandemic when Gabby got COVID and began writing about the isolation of the disease that the group blossomed and grew. People flocked to her community; for many it was the first time they had lost a loved one, for others having an open forum for conversation and support was a place of solace in uncertain times. The Hospice Heart community has grown to over 140,000 people who are dying, caring for someone who's dying, grieving, or anticipating grief and loss.
Gabby is a supporter of medical aid in dying, maintaining that for many that hospice and palliative care is enough to alleviate pain and provide a peaceful death, but for some it is not enough. “Once in a while, there is someone whose symptoms cannot be managed, who is suffering so deeply, not just physically but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. And when you see someone go through that, which I have, you are reminded that death is different for everyone.” Her latest book, Dignity Day is about demystifying medical aid in dying and providing clarity and understanding on the subject.
On reflection of her own death, Gabby says “I think about my mortality every single day. I have come to a place of gratitude for my life. It's going to happen to every person we love. I'd like it to wait a little while, but I want to savor this life for as long as it is gifted to me, and know that when that time comes, I'll be sad, but I'm okay with that.”
If you are interested in visiting the Hospice Heart Facebook page, please click here. Gabby can be reached for classes and bookings at her website. Her latest book is available for purchase both in print and digitally here.