The mission of Cherished Connections Hospice Home is to enhance the
quality of life for individuals and their loved ones touched by a
The one thing guaranteed in life is death and sometimes we may never
know or understand why. Families live with deep pain and regret,
causing them to never find joy or smile again after loss. My name is
Christa McDonald RN/Creator of Cherished Connections Hospice Home.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter it means a lot for
you to read my story so you understand why.
Starting out in the medical field at 13 years old volunteering as a
candy striper at a hospital on weekends my mother worked in. She has
been a nurse 46yrs now, I'm grateful for her being the example of what
caring for patients truly looks like. The gift at a young age I
received was being able to connect with patients and families and help
them when they were most vulnerable and needed someone. I saw what a
difference I could make asking if they wanted ice or a blanket.
Patients and families opened up to me in ways I never understood. What
I know now is I was someone to listen and care about the small things
that meant so much to them, I just got ice out of an ice machine I was
thinking, but they were thinking I’m not alone. 16 years old I was in
training to become a certified nursing assistant and one of my 1st
patients I was caring for on my own was a cute elderly lady. White
shiny hair big smile loved her family. I was giving her a bed bath I
remember feeling a strong sense of peace, calmness and remembering the
sun was shining bright in her room. All of sudden the teacher came up
behind me and said Christa she 's dead. I had no clue in that moment.
The next day some students didn’t come to school due to it being hard
for them, I was called into a meeting to make sure I was okay and I
was. I told my mom that I didn’t think I was meant to be a nurse, I
had no clue my patient was dead, little did I know this would be my
passion, purpose and calling in life.
I became a volunteer EMT at 18, with my local ambulance and was
employed in the Emergency Room for a few years. I experienced deaths,
with families that were unimaginable, yet still I was able to provide
some peace and healing to families, still had no answers, somehow, I
knew it was okay not knowing why. I got stuck when I saw families
going thru the pain and suffering, feeling they can’t move forward, I
just kept thinking it doesn’t have to be like this. I was a CNA for 5
years, LVN at 21, then became an RN at 23 years old and entered into
the Home Health/Hospice field working in all areas.
Now at 36 years old, my purpose and passion in creating this is to
provide a safe place for patients and families to prepare for their
next journey in life with ease, comfort and support. One thought that
is connected to hospice is morphine families always express they feel
like they are “killing” their loved one. That’s not the truth at all.
Research from the early 1900’s shows 4 stages of pain and morphine
helps with one stage of pain which is physical pain. The other 3
stages are social, emotional/phycological and spiritual pain. Those
stages are associated with the dying patient and their thoughts of
guilt, regret, fear, anxiety, anger. Morphine may not always help if
we don’t address the other stages of pain.
Top 5 regrets of the dying
1. I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not life
others expected of me
2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard
3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
5. I wish I let myself be happier
In all the years of listening and helping patients and families at
the end of life, I allowed them the opportunity to share their life
story and accomplishments we all have them we just don’t always
realize it. It brought patients peace and satisfaction with who they
are and what they have created in their life. It’s never too late is a
true statement I have seen reconciliation of families, relationships
restored never thought would be possible. Believe in something! A
consistent reason over the years families struggle so much after
experiencing loss, sounds like this “I should have been there more,
helped out more I didn’t know they were that sick.” We all get busy
with “I have to” and the hustle of life, which I get myself. I’m here
to create awareness and tell you if death is guaranteed, NO ONE is
guaranteed tomorrow. What will you do different today? Every single
person in this world has made a difference somehow, let’s start to
focus on the gifts people bring to us, we all are doing the best we
can with what we know how. Pain is inevitable suffering is optional.
I want to express how grateful I’m for all the love and support that
has come my way to start this home, I almost have no words! I declared
August 7th, 2010 that I was going to start a hospice home with hopes
patients and families can view death differently and be able to find
that peaceful place at the end of their life. Allow family members and
caregivers to celebrate their loved one’s accomplishments and gifts
they have learned and will use along the way to CHERISH FOREVER! Your
Loved One Matters!