Please join me as we travel through a day in the life of a hospice music therapist.

Our first visit of the day is with a patient living at home. For over 30 years, this individual and her child performed together on dueling pianos. They held a high caliber of music and discovered a depth of relationship beyond spoken words. As we come to visit them, the individual is only talking intermittently now and not able to play the piano. However, they were able to connect again within the visit by playing the reverie harp together, through the singing on syllables, and through the family dedicating songs to her. We end the visit with me singing back the family’s words to their loved one on hospice care:

You are loving and sweet
You are musical, creative
You are beautiful, wonderful, kind
And we love you

The second visit of the day is for a young child whose mother is on service. The child had recently been reported as going to the bedside and stating “mommy, please don’t die.” We come in, bringing a wide range of instruments to grab the young one’s attention. We sing “Let It Go” and talk about all of the changes that happen every day. And by the time we’re done chanting about emotions and changes, the child acknowledges her mother is dying and says “when I feel sad I can talk to Teddy.”

brittany doing music therapyThe third visit is best described by the reflections of the daughter, who wrote in to say: “The music therapy was an amazing gift to both of my parents. Much of what we wanted to say to my mother ('you can let go, we love you, we will be OK, you did a good job') Brittany sang to my mother on her final day. She relaxed and peacefully passed one hour later. My father and mother shared songs and memories which the therapist made into a CD – their voices and stories are priceless. We will be playing the CD at their celebration of life and I have made copies for all family and friends. Words cannot express my gratitude—music touches a special place in our hearts and soul. My hope is that every family have this opportunity.”

And the last visit of the day is a mother and friend who wants to create a living legacy for those she will leave behind in this world. Through the discussion of Van Morrison lyrics, a safe space, and a recording device, we capture her voice and words as she shares final thoughts with her daughter:

"Hi Heidi, its mom. I love you so much! Be strong, okay sweetheart? I'm okay. I'll watch over you and Dad. Don't worry, be strong. You've been the love of my life, all my life since you were born sweetheart. You make me very happy, you and Dad. I love you — Mom"