I don’t remember you.


This article is re-posted with permission. We thank Gabrielle Elise Jimenez, hospice nurse, end-of-life doula, and conscious dying educator, for sharing her experiences at thehospiceheart.net blog.


Stack of colorful post-it sticky notes isolated on white

Several years ago, I was blessed to be at the bedside of an incredibly kind and generous man. Because of him I was gifted a lifetime friendship with his wife and daughter. After he died, I stayed in contact with them and we had several meals together over the years, until his wife’s memory started to fade, and confusion slowly set in. She was moved into a facility where I was able to visit occasionally, but the space between the visits became longer and longer as her condition worsened. Her daughter and I have been getting together every few months, and she has kept me updated on her mom’s decline, which was happening more quickly now.

About a week ago, she had to move her mom into a new facility that could offer her a higher level of care, which as you can imagine was tough for her. Some of you know this feeling well, you have been in her shoes, and you have had to provide full time care to someone you love. And even though you know it is the right thing to do, there are a lot of emotions that leave you tangled up inside.

I went to visit her at the new facility. I found her on the couch in the dining room, sitting alone. She looked as beautiful as I remembered, smiling, and laughing as though she was just told a funny joke. I sat down next to her, she barely looked at me, and when I said hello, she smiled at me like you do to a total stranger who just said hello, and you are trying to be polite and kind. She didn’t know me. I told her my name, which made her smile, but not in the way I hoped it would. I told her I knew her husband, which got her attention, but it was short lived. She looked right at me, and said, “I’m sorry, but I don’t remember you.” And my heart sunk as I held in the tears. I whispered to myself… “I remember you.”

I asked her if I could come back again for another visit, which she seemed pleased about, and then shook my hand as though she just met me. I realized at that moment we were strangers, or at least I was a stranger to her. As I walked away from her, I reminded myself that this is not about me, and while I wish she could remember me, and that our dinners never stopped, things have changed and what she needs from me, is to meet her where she is, not where I want her to be.

When I first met her, she had just started to struggle with remembering things, so she had post-it notes everywhere. At first there were just a few, but over time I watched as the notes increased, helping her to remember things she needed to do, places she need to be, and the day-to-day life stuff. I am guessing that one day she forgot to write the post-it notes and was left to fumble around her life not knowing what she needed to do or where she needed to be. Her daughter took her hand and provided the most compassionate care and support every single difficult step of the way.

When someone loses their memory, when they do not remember events or faces or even you … it isn’t personal. And while it hurts, it is not about us. Our role in these situations is to be present for them, to remove fear and not remind them of it, and to accept that being in the moment is everything to them, and all they know. We must find a way to let that be enough for us and savor each moment however we have been gifted them. It is okay to step away to cry, and your hurt is valid, so please make sure to take care of you and find someone you can talk about it with. And on those difficult moments, try to go back in time to the memories you have the luxury of bringing up and sit there for a while.


Mechanicsburg Teens Launch Charity to Provide Meals for Hospice Families



A home-cooked meal made with thoughtful intentions can do more than fill one’s belly; it can provide empathy and compassion for a family going through difficult times. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit our region, many of us turned to Netflix to pass the time. Neeti Goel and her children Anishka, age 15 and Arav, age 17, of Mechanicsburg, turned to volunteering to help those in need of a warm meal and a bit of sunshine in their lives. Neeti and her children began preparing casseroles and soups for Homeland Hospice patients and their families. Homeland Hospice is a hospice program that serves communities throughout Central Pennsylvania.

Neeti located Homeland Hospice on VolunteerMatch, an online resource connecting volunteers with projects. Neeti and her children wanted to volunteer safely from their home and Homeland’s need for prepared meals was the perfect opportunity.

“We started with the desire to volunteer,” Neeti says. “It wasn’t long until we perfected our work and began preparing meals twice a month.”

Anishka and Arav quickly took on most of the cooking and expanded their menu to include soups. With practice came perfection. Anishka and Arav created an efficient assembly process to cook, store and package meals for delivery. The siblings also added handmade cards to offer support to hospice patients and their families.

“It felt good to know we were helping others,” Anishka says. “Volunteering for a brief amount of time can make a big difference.”

After months of meal preparation for Homeland, Neeti and her children began helping two additional hospice organizations in the region. As their work expanded, so did their grocery bill. Anishka and Arav decided to start their own nonprofit organization to raise funds to pay for the ingredients needed to prepare meals. The siblings founded Rays of Sunshine to bring a bit of light to families in their time of need.

From working with a lawyer to establish their charitable nonprofit status to creating a website, Anishka and Arav did it all. The experiences provided valuable life skills as well as resources to keep their passion of helping others going.

“We have raised more than $1,500 so far,” Arav says. “The funds will help us continue making meals for families.”

Rays of Sunshine held its first fundraising event earlier this year with Two Sisters’ Mixers, which provided artisanal cocktail mixers. The event not only raised funds, but brought awareness to the power of volunteerism at any age and the work of Homeland Hospice.

Neeti, Anishka and Arav, never dreamed their decision to volunteer would create a transformational experience for the family. They simply set out to make someone’s day a bit brighter.

“We were so pleased to learn how much the families enjoyed our cooking,” Neeti says. “It has been wonderful for us to work together as a family.”

Homeland Hospice is a hospice program that serves 14 communities throughout Central Pennsylvania by providing end-of-life care either in a person’s home or wherever they reside, including nursing facilities. Homeland also provides bereavement support to families for a full 13 months following the death of their loved one. This service is available to anyone in the community who is experiencing grief.

For more information about Rays of Sunshine visit rays-of-sunshine.org. For more information about Homeland Hospice call (717) 221-7890.