Origins

Origin Story

Note: This is a guest post by Jennifer Swanson, taking part in our Origins series about how music therapists working in end-of-life care trace their connection to this work. For more information about Jennifer, please refer to the “Contributors” tab. If you are interested in contributing a piece to the Origins series, please read more from our Call for Submissions.

How did I, the woman with initial aspirations to use music therapy to change the world by bringing together people in battling nations, or empowering women in Middle Eastern countries, or using music as joining language between different cultures, end up working with people at the very end of life? Continue reading “Origin Story”

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General

Mothering Our Clients–Mothering Ourselves

Note: In true “new mom” fashion, I drafted this post in August. It has taken until now for me to complete it!

Sometime last year, Noah and I were chatting about parenthood, our work, birth stories and death stories…you know—the usual light-hearted conversation topics! He wondered how it was for me to be a mom while simultaneously working in pediatric palliative care. I have long since wanted to blog about this topic, but struggled with what exactly I wanted to say. What follows are some thoughts that came to me during a long stroll with my infant daughter. Continue reading “Mothering Our Clients–Mothering Ourselves”

General

Where is the darkness?

We, the music therapy community, have a certain way of talking about our work in end-of-life care, and a certain way that we generally do not talk about our work in end-of-life care.  End-of-life music therapy clinical work is often described as “so beautiful” and “so spiritual,” I think more so than music therapy in its other clinical iterations.  We like to talk about the lightness, the tears of much-needed release, the uplifting, transcendent beauty of music in the moments leading toward someone’s death.

But that’s only a portion of the work, isn’t it?   Continue reading “Where is the darkness?”

General

Hospice from the Inside

Every interdisciplinary team of which I have been a member has had a particular and consistent reaction to the case description of very sick patients under 60 years old. Sort of a collective “ooph,” like everyone in the room has just been sucker-punched. I’ve seen this over and over again. Even the most experienced nurses and physicians do it. And I’ve been a part of it too, emitting a soft groan along with everyone else (less and less soft the younger the patient might be) at the moment of recognition. So I couldn’t stop myself from imagining what happened at the hospice team meeting, my old team from before I moved away, when my mother’s case was announced. Continue reading “Hospice from the Inside”

General

Music After Death

I recently won an award.  It was a complete surprise and I believe that I was nominated by several administrators and colleagues.  The award recognized me as an “Employee of Distinction” by an association for excellence long term care facilities.  I was obviously honored and completely surprised.  I was also, truthfully, feeling a bit perplexed.   Continue reading “Music After Death”