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Healing power of music 
22 Feb 2013, 2:53 AM

Music's power to heal is well-known. Music affects people deeply. It can pull you out of your grief and help you heal.


I lost my mom a few years ago,  Carly Simon’s “Like a river” helped me.


The following lyrics, resonated with me


“I'll wait no more for you like a daughter,
That part of our life together is over
But I will wait for you, forever
Like a river...”


Are there other VH community members out there, who have a particular song that helps or helped them?

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Reply by eKIM
28 Feb 2013, 11:45 PM

Hi GirlWithTheBlackBaret,

I understand the “healing and/or comforting” power of music. 

As a Resident Support Volunteer at our local hospice, I often sing to the residents.  It is not for everyone, of course, but for those who welcome it, the power of music is astonishing! 

Currently I am singing, Nat King Coles “Unforgetable” to a sweet 83 year old resident who’s husband died decades ago.  She is a very sweet and loveable lady.

Truthfully, I tell her that she is unforgettable and that I will never forget her. 

When I sing to her, she looks deeply into my eyes without blinking or looking away.  I experience a “connection” that I have rarely had with any other human being.  And imagine, I’ve only known her for two weeks!  

The amazing and powerful effect of music.  I am in awe. 

I don’t understand it, but then again, some of the most beautiful things in life don’t need to be explained or understood.   - ekim

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Reply by womynstar8
18 May 2013, 8:41 PM

The Victoria Hospice unit has a Beside Singing program, which I helped to create.  Bedside Singing uses very simple songs/chants that are easily understood by those who are dying and  encourage a sense of peace (even those with dementia).   Although I would want these songs sung to me while I am dying, I also want "Time to Say Goodbye" (Andrea Bocceli?) to be played -- there are only a few words in English, but the music speaks to me deeply about me saying goodbye.

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Reply by J.D.
21 May 2013, 1:46 AM

I dont have the gift of music but I truly believe that it is helpful.  I wish volunteers could be trained to give a bit of music to those with dementia or in need of palliative care.  We need a little encouragement and some ideas for easy lyrics and tunes.
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Reply by JennJilks
22 May 2013, 1:08 AM

Room 217 is a group that writes and publishes music for end-of-life care. (I am not involved with them, other than trading my book for one of their CDs at a palliative care conference!)

Music is a powerful dynamic in human relationships.

Room 217 therapeutic music resources have been specifically designed to create a pathway of soothing comfort through life's transitions. They may provide support to those with complex care needs, life challenging illness, those facing stressful times in their lives, and those who are looking for calm and relaxation in the midst of their life journey. - Bev Foster 
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Reply by J.D.
22 May 2013, 1:41 AM

A big thank you!
I had no knowledge of Room 217 music until you replied - and reading Bev Foster's story brought me to tears.  I will certainly try to implement the musical theme in my personal journey with my mother's palliative care as well as my volunteer work in care for the elderly.
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Reply by KathCull_admin
23 Aug 2014, 4:35 AM

Warren Zevon's song,'Keep me in your heart' has been a favourite of mine for several years. 

This YouTube recording is a little grainy but I think helps to tell the story with the music. 


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Reply by eKIM
24 Aug 2014, 1:42 AM

I love to sing to residents at our hospice.  I have had many memorable experiences - like the lady who said to me, “You know, in my lifetime I’ve had two men propose to me, but I’ve never had a man sing to me.”

On my last shift I was visiting a man who was very disoriented.  His cognitive abilities were impaired by his disease.  The first thing he asked me was, “Did you check all the fires before you came in?”  He would start a sentence and half way through, he would lose his train of thought.  On top of that, he kept trying to climb out of bed.

The PSW (Personal Support Worker) was trying to bathe, change and dress him with little success.  I told him that I had just written some lyrics to a well known tune and it spoke of the compassionate care that we provide at hospice.  I asked him if he would like me to sing it to him – he would be the first to hear it.  He replied, enthusiastically, “Yes”.

As I sang, he relaxed and did not move a muscle as the PSW bathed, turned and dressed him.  At the end of my song he had a big smile on his face and he applauded.  It was a sweet example of the wonderful power of music. 

It was not the quality of my singing or my song that did it, I believe.  I believe that the soothing sound of someone singing “for him” as opposed to “to him” that brought him comfort.  For the moment he was not focusing on his situation.  I know that the comfort was only for a moment, but considering how few moments remained in his life, I hoped that my effort was worthwhile.

I love the line, "Music has charms to soothe a savage breast," by William Congreve.  When a resident is in distress, I often wonder what is going on in their “savage breast” and what I can do to soothe their troubled spirit. 

I will try being a good listener and use the other traditional methods we were taught in our training.  But when nothing else seems to work and I find myself over-analyzing in my attempt to be compassionate and effective, sometimes the simplicity of song is just what works best.


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Reply by JennJilks
24 Aug 2014, 11:52 AM

Good for you, eKim. I often just take my hymn book in and sing. It helps if they haven't lost their hearing, though! My late father lost both of his hearing aids and we didn't replace them.

That didn't stop me, though. When I visit people sometimes I take in my recorder and play. Once I took in my water stick, too!

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Reply by Nouce
26 Aug 2014, 12:15 PM

I also find comfort in birdsong. This morning, on the first anniversary of my mother's death, a Carolina chickadee is singing her heart out, outside my kitchen window.
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