Archive for the ‘Hospice Experiences’ Category

Being There – Music at the time of one’s passing.

June 14th, 2010 Tom Rossi 3 comments


Today was the first time, in all my years of playing medicinal music to help soothe the terminally ill, that I was there at just the right time to serenade a patient as she passed from this world to the next.

For privacy reasons, I will call her Mrs. B.

The timing couldn’t have been more perfect for Mrs B., as her daughter was there with the social worker and the attending nurses.

The way could not have been more peaceful and supported, as her daughter sang songs to her with me like “You Are My Sunshine” (a song her mom sang to her as a child), “Let It Be” and “Bridge Over Troubled Waters”.

Soon after we sang “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” there was a shift in Mrs. B as she began to let go.

By instinct, as this was happening, I started slowly strumming the “amen” chords on the guitar and sang “hallelujah” softly, over and over.

One of the attending nurses sensed the shift in Mrs. B, too, and put a hand on her head and on her heart, telling her “It’s okay. You can let go. There is a light behind you. It’s okay.”

And she did.

It’s been a few years that I’ve been playing music for Mrs. B, and I feel so honored and blessed that I could be there for her, as she had such a long and difficult process.

I reflect on the first time I ever played for a patient, who was near their death, and what it was that inspired me to want to continue.

It was the dignity, the comfort and the celebration of life the music helped to bring. It was how the music touched on so many levels emotionally, physically and spiritually for the patient and the family.

In those moments I felt as though I was serving the needs of something greater and experienced a profound sense of fulfillment.

Today I’m grateful to feel that profound sense again.

Thank you, Mrs. B.

Playing music for Mrs. T – A Hospice Story.

May 3rd, 2010 Tom Rossi 1 comment

Playing relaxing music on 26-string West African harp, called a modified kora.

I wish to share a story of one of my favorite hospice patients who recently passed.

Usually, when I play for folks, who are nearing the end of their lives, the majority are already in a semi-conscious or unconscious state.

Over the years there have been a few opportunities when I have had the pleasure of spending time with patients who were conscious for more than a day or so, and even fewer times with ones who are awake and open to a new experience that the music can bring, in spite of their condition.

My friend, who I shall call Mrs. T, was that inspiring kind of person who, at the end of her life, didn’t throw in the towel before the clang of the bell.

Mrs. T loved music and lit up like a christmas tree when I would come to play for her. The times that we spent together brought me much joy and it was a great honor to be

able to provide an atmosphere for her to relax and find peace.

With the help of the music and the company of her family, she was able to let this life move her deeply enough

One of many nice moments with Mrs. T.

one last time to make a transformation towards resolving some old wounds with herself and her daughters before passing on to the next.

One of her daughters was kind enough to share her photos and this with me:

“I can never thank you enough for all the joy you brought to my mom.  She cleary loved you and your music. I do think your music helped her further open her heart. My mother became more loving and gentle and kind every day.”

If Mrs. T only knew the impact she made on me as well. I am forever grateful.

Listen to what the 26-string kora sounds like.

Music available on iTunes - Click image.

Medicinal Music on 26-string African kora for Hospice

July 2nd, 2009 Tom Rossi No comments

As most of you know from the last letter, I’ve been playing music for hospice patients for many years now. This experience continues to be a humbling and rewarding one in many ways. One of those ways is when it becomes so clear, again and again, just how powerful music can be as a form of medicine.

In many cases, I’ve witnessed relief of great pain, depression and anxiety. Sometimes the relief is only momentary, or for an hour or so, but sometimes there have been considerable shifts in patients that I’ve been able to see more regularly. Even though they still may be on their way towards death, they somehow find what I can only describe as a kind of reconciliation in themselves.

One gentleman, who I had the distinct pleasure to play for, began reciting some of the most profound things just off the cuff, one of which I was able to remember.
He said,

“Light is always looking for a home
and when it finds a place to dwell
it illuminates all in its presence.”

I thought, Wow. Something is happening here that is much bigger than just playing music, especially after his son noticed this shift and mentioned such poetic incantations were not his nature. It goes way beyond entertainment, when someone receives the music in such a way. It becomes a means to heal, a means to tether us to something greater, something comforting and timeless.

Peaceful Resonance music sample:

Click to listen