FPH Couples Share Comfort Crosses

Rita and Nelson West, married Faith Presbyterian Hospice (FPH) teammates, are personally sharing their hearts with those they serve. In addition to fulfilling their duties as FPH teammates, this couple works together to handcraft beautiful and unique “Comfort Crosses” to gift to hospice patients with the hope of providing them with peace and comfort.

Rita serves as a massage therapist for FPH’s in-home hospice team and Nelson, a Registered Nurse, serves as a nurse educator, mentoring field nurse teammates and providing clinical training to in-home hospice patients and their loves ones. Rita first joined FPH as a volunteer in August of 2018 before becoming a teammate a year later, and Nelson has been with FPH since June of 2018. The couple have been married for 15 years.

Throughout their time working in hospice, the Wests observed many patients exhibiting signs of anxiety and uncertainty as their illnesses progressed. They would often see patients wringing their hands or grasping their sheets or bedrails. The idea for “Comfort Crosses” stemmed from the thought of holding something tangible, patients might release their anxiety and be open to experiencing peace and hope.

Rita and Nelson specifically designed the shape of their crosses to fit into the palm of a hand and create several different sizes to accommodate the wide variety needed to suit those they serve. The fairly laborious crafting process is a true team effort as Nelson thoughtfully selects the wood, cuts out the basic shape, machine contours it and then rough sands the piece. Rita sands, smooths and polishes each cross until it reaches a glossy finish. The crosses are crafted from domestic and exotic wood and each one is completely unique.

“For every patient I see, using all of my God-given gifts and talents to the best of my ability to help add peace and comfort to their body and mind, and hope for their heart as they experience the progression of their life-altering disease,” Rita said.

To the Wests, the cross is a symbol of their Christian faith, representing peace, comfort, renewal and victory through the gift of salvation through Jesus. When they visit patients, they each keep a few crosses with them and ask for God to direct them to those who might benefit from receiving a special cross.

“(I’m passionate about hospice because it makes) a positive difference in lives of those who are experiencing some of the most difficult and painful challenges in their life. I thrive by supporting the nurses who provide direct care for those who we serve,” Nelson said.

To date, the couple has created 15 crosses but hope to have a dozen in their stock to share at the T. Boone Pickens Hospice Center and available for the chaplains to distribute. If you would like to learn more or to request a cross, please contact Rita West.