Roles with Gaia Home
- Executive Director
- Gaia Giving Campaign Committee Member
- Gaia Home Operations Advisory Group Member
- Gaia Home Advisory Group Member
My name is Kilee Harmon, and I am humbled to serve as the Executive Director of Gaia Home. I want to bring Gaia Home to fruition because I know the services and experiences it will provide will greatly impact many people as they go through the most vulnerable time of their lives.
When I was eight, my grandpa passed away. It was my first encounter with the end-of-life that I can recall. We lived at the Grand Forks Air Force Base and my maternal grandma and grandpa lived in Milwaukee, WI, roughly 10 hours away. One day my grandparents called to say grandpa’s cancer is worse, and they decided to have hospice come into the home. As a young child, I didn’t understand what it all meant or how hard it was for grandma to be grandpa’s primary caregiver. However, I knew it was hard for my mom as I sensed she felt sad she couldn’t be with my grandparents to assist.
The last week of grandpa’s life my mom was in Milwaukee to help with his care. The day before he passed, my mom called my dad and said we needed to get there. We were in the car within the hour and made it to Milwaukee in time. I’ll never forget seeing grandpa sleeping in his hospital bed in the den where he used to watch old Western movies. I had a chance to hold his hand and say goodbye.
The next day he was surrounded by his wife, his three children and their spouses when he took his last breath. I remember afterwards seeing both sadness and relief in the adults’ faces because the hard caretaking tasks were done, and grandpa was in a better place.
My mom was younger than me when she cared for her father during his end-of-life. Luckily my parents are still alive and healthy. At the same time, as an only child, I can’t help but think about how difficult it will be when the time comes for me to experience the journey with them.
That’s why I want to ensure Gaia Home becomes a reality. I think about all the people whose hearts could better handle being the daughter, son, husband, wife, brother, or sister, during their loved ones’ final days, versus being the caregiver. I think about the person who is passing, and how they may feel more comfortable and dignified if their loved one wasn’t providing the tough care duties. I think about those people who don’t have friends or family who can help near the end. I think about the families who would prefer to not have the final moments in their own home because of the sad memories it can leave behind.
Lastly, I think about Gaia Home’s mission to “…nurture the human spirit through the end-of-life journey,” and I know the experiences people will have will help heal their hearts so they can live on and honor their loved one’s memory.