Monday, November 21, 2022
When Feeling Grief while Singing at Bedside
One thing I love about being a Threshold Singer is seeing how music brings a sense of peace to a patient and their families. To be able to hold space for someone who is dying, for their families to grieve, and to be able to comfort that family is why we do what we do.
The song is the gift ... for all of us.
Each time I go to hospice, I feel like I'm entering a sacred space. But each visit has been different from others, as varied as the people in the world—no two visits are alike. And some days impact me more deeply than others.
On my most recent visit, I learned what preemptive grief is. I knew that it would come up at some point in my journey as a bedside singer. I didn't know when it would hit, but I knew it would at some point.
"Some point" is today, apparently.
Training to be a threshold singer prepares you for such things, thankfully. I've done a lot of examination of my own thoughts around death and how I personally process grief. I feel I have grown so much through that work. And today I witnessed two situations that I imagine I will experience some day. They felt a little close to home, and that feeling of preemptive grief arrived. It happened mid-song, so instead of reacting, I took the role of observer, thinking "Hm. Okay. This is grief happening, and I will look more closely at it later when I'm done with this visit."
Now that I am home from a song visit, I will sit, and I will feel: grief to gratitude, heart open, sitting in loving light, sending loving-kindness to all beings...
To all souls.
I am grateful for my fellow singers. And I am grateful to the family members present in each of those situations for their openness, their willingness to share both current, physical space and timeless, liminal space with us during their sorrow and their exhaustion and their pain, as well as their memories and their joy in having been part of a life well lived. We witness all of these things, and more. I'm grateful that they let the music be whatever they need it to be in that moment.
I'm especially grateful for the ones who could hear us in another room, who wonder if we'll come to them next and eagerly greet us when we do. They have demonstrated such generosity and beauty of spirit. They and my fellow singers kept me going when those uncomfortable feelings cropped up, like a life-saver ring thrown into a sea of emotions. I held on and let them lift me out of the depths.
Thank you for that gift.
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