“Kimberly is a passionate visionary who identified issues and needs surrounding end of life that are well beyond her years. Her creative approach to everything gives people permission to LIVE until the end of their days, empowered.”
Selena Boyette, Lower Cape Fear Hospice
Kimberly C. Paul chose to leave her dream job in television and film to discover the authentic stories at the bedside of the dying. Working for hospice was supposed to only be a temporary job until she could build relationships in the film industry in Wilmington, NC. But this temporary job spread over 17 years as Vice President of Communications and Outreach for a local hospice. It never crossed Kimberly’s mind that her true calling would find her and lead to unexpected and bold intentions to become one of the leaders in the death positive movement happening in the United States today.
Throughout nearly two decades of hospice experience, Kimberly experienced grief from the loss of young co-workers and many hospice patients as she captured their life stories in order to celebrate the lives they lived. Yet, one loss would come as a total gut-wrenching surprise. As she was attending a hospice co-w
orker’s wedding, a totally stranger informed her that her recent ex-boyfriend lost his life to cancer at the age of 30. Kimberly tells the complete story within her newly published book, Bridging the Gap, that can be purchased on her website at www.deathbydesign.com/buy-bridging-the-gap-by-kimberly-c-paul/. This startling news lead Kimberly on an FBI investigation to find out the details of what happened to the boy she loved and discovered in the end that the boy was protecting her from a loss that he felt would have been too much for her to bear. This discovery made her mission at hospice very personal and sparked a passion that she is now living.
Kimberly left her job at hospice in December 2016, cashed in her retirement and created a new platform that invites everyone around the table to have open conversations about death and dying. She created a podcast, Death by Design, that hosts industry leaders in medicine as well as artists, designers, caregivers and authors who are reclaiming their voice around their own experiences with death and dying. Each conversation is meant to inspire others to engage in difficult conversations around their own deaths, actively make decisions about how and where they want to die and begin to change the taboo subject of death and dying into the ultimate gift of connection with family and friends. Death by Design Podcast is in its 2nd season and continues to normalize difficult conversations, discover ordinary individuals making extraordinary differences in their local communities and highlight people who are developing new ways to assist the Baby Boomers as they design their own end of life.
Since her book, Bridging the Gap, was published on April 13th, 2018, Kimberly is on to her next adventure of speaking throughout the United States. But she is doing it a little differently than anyone expected. In June 2018, she bought an RV, downsized her belongings and hit the road with her German Shepherd, Haven. Kimberly has named her adventure the “Live Well Die Well Tour” because she states, “The more I talk about death, the more boldly I feel I’m living life to the fullest.”
The tour jump started in Ohio alongside her ex-boyfriend’s parents (the boy who lost his life to cancer over 18 years ago). Kimberly states, “It was a way to put meaning into the beginning of the tour – to make sure it is always personal.” Now she is making her way through every state, with exception of Hawaii, to connect with people and communities, sign books and share how she learned to live life boldly at the bedside of hospice patients.
The Live Well Die Well tour is supported by over 20 sponsors including Cabot Cheese, My Last Soundtrack, Amedisys Hospice, INEDLA, National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, POLST Paradigm and many more who support community education in an effort to empower individuals to reclaim death as a human experience and not a medical event.
You can follow the tour at www.livewelldiewelltour.com.
When Kimberly was asked, ‘What are you finding on the road as you travel?” She simply answered, “I am finding hope in humanity again. I’m finding connection with complete strangers. I’m finding goodness in people. Even if our views are different we still can connect as human beings. I’m finding that living boldly is hard but worth every minute.”
After graduating from Meredith College in Raleigh, NC, Kimberly began working on the set of Saturday Night Live, casting for CBS daytime programming and freelancing for several production companies in New York City. While working in the entertainment industry, Kimberly was captivated by the creative process of developing the arc of the story. As she observed the manic rush of writing comedy skits for live television and watched daytime television actors’ storylines constantly evolve, she realized she had always been interested in the story.
For the last 17 years, however, Kimberly has been telling a very different kind of story―a positive, inspiring story about designing a personal blueprint for an individual’s end of life. As Vice
President of Outreach and Communications for Lower Cape Fear Hospice in Wilmington, NC, she created a myriad of award-winning marketing strategies to share real stories of how hospice patients and their loved ones face the end of life journey.
As creator of the “Begin the Conversation” campaign in 2008, Kimberly was the driving force of the program until her departure from Lower Cape Fear Hospice in 2016. “Begin the Conversation,” (BTC) is a nationally recognized program encouraging the use of advance care directives with a focus on the value of conversations in advance care planning. BTC has received multiple honors and awards, including the Carolinas Healthcare Public Relations Marketing Society Silver Wallie Award (2012) for mixed media campaign and a Telly Award for best television spot (2015). In addition, the campaign won honorable mentions for Best Branding/Re-Branding and Best Social Responsibility Campaign/Initiative in PR Daily’s Nonprofit Public Relations awards competition in 2013.
Selected to speak at TEDxAirlie in 2016, Kimberly’s Ted Talk epitomized her passion for educating individuals about Advance Care Planning and the issues that may occur for individuals and family members if they do not prepare for end of life. During her 17-year career in hospice care, her stories have inspired and empowered many to take action by documenting personal plans prior to the occurrence of a life-ending health crisis.
Kimberly’s enthusiasm and passion to positively educate those on how to plan for end of life are evident as she shares her stories through speaking engagements, her writings, videos and film. As of 2017, Kimberly is now investing 100-percent of her time to bring innovation to the death and dying industry by applying the concept of design thinking.
With a book in development for release in the upcoming months and the creation of her podcast streams for 2017, Kimberly is dedicated to providing continuous education about end of life choices with the help of leading experts in the healthcare industry and photographers, painters, authors and everyday people sharing their personal experience about love, loss, preparation and moving through grief.
“Death by Design” is an innovative, constructive and uplifting invitation to move beyond the legal paperwork and vital conversations necessary for end of life. “Death by Design” will empower you to design your death to reflect your values, your likes and even your personality. Our death, if designed, can be a beautiful experience and not just a final destination.
2010 – Nominated AMA/AMAF, American Marketing Association Foundation, Non-Profit Marketer of the Year
2012 – Nominated for the End of Life Leadership Award, The Carolinas Center
2013 – Nominated for Women to Watch Wilma Mag, Wilmington NC
2015 – Nominated for YWCA Women of the Year, Wilmington NC
2016 – Nominated for Women to Watch Wilma Mag, Wilmington NC
Cucalorus Connect – Executive Board Member – Spring 2017 – Present
The Carolina Center for Hospice and Palliative Care – Board Member – Spring 2016 – Winter 2016
Women to Watch, Wilma/ Business Journal – Advisory Board Member 2016- 2017
Carolina Healthcare Public Relations & Marketing Society (CHPRMS) – Board Member 2012-2016
WellCare Home Health – Advisory Committee 2010-2013
Frank Harr Foundation – Executive Committee Member – 2011-2013
Association for Home & Hospice Care for North Carolina – Public Relations Advisory Committee 2013 – 2014
United Way – Campaign Cabinet – Vice Chairwomen Health Division – 2013-2014
Hospice Provider Network – Chair of Marketing & Outreach Committee – 2013-2014