Music to Honor and Support the Dying Process

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This is part one of three posts where I will describe music therapy interactions that are indicative of music being very meaningful, enriching and sometimes life changing!

Why Music???


Music and memories…


Yesterday at a local nursing home I was called in by a hospice RN to visit an actively dying, elderly woman who reportedly had a very rich music history, particularly with her family and church. When I arrived, the family initially was not sure about a music therapy (MT) visit, then said yes. They said they had been singing favorite/family hymns to their dying Mom (two children and one in-law were present). The family spoke of their mom and dad’s favorite hymns that they had sung for years. I sat next to patient and began to sing some of their favorite hymns. One daughter held her mom’s hand singing softly, kissing her forehead at times and smiling throughout. The other family members sang and cried. The patient appeared to be comfortable throughout and family were very thankful for this (last) music experience with their mother.


As it turned out this patient died soon after I left. For me it is an honor to be with patients and families during this truly precious time. And to think that my music was the last music they experienced on this earth, is very special and humbling.


So, “Why music??”… to stimulate positive reminiscence and provide a vehicle for family honoring and memorial experiences.

In upcoming posts I will continue with “why music???” as I describe other music therapy experiences that are indicative of why music is so meaningful, enriching and life changing.

My prescription this week??? Think back of music experiences that are very special to you and your family and re-visit that music. If possible, do this with your family. Maybe then, journal about your “re- visit” experience and share this with your family. We don’t have to wait until we’re on our death bed to experience this!!! And again, listen to YOUR favorite music and enjoy!!!!