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  • Jill Heilman

The Healing Power of Music

I never really appreciated the way music could heal and comfort others. Maybe that is because I am tone deaf, dance like Elaine on Seinfeld, and have no musical ability what so ever! Fortunately, I married a man with a strong appreciation for music and the ability to turn to "notes" for comfort and peace. He passed that love for song on to our children.

Halle especially found a unique comfort in music. She often would go to her room and turn up her "jams" and get lost in her tunes. She was that girl at church that would dance like no one was watching and who could care less if others made fun of her for worshipping in song.

There are many times I remember Halle turning to music to find comfort and peace. One day, in particular, stands out the most. Halle and I had just left the neurologist office. It was the Spring of 2015, and Dr. G told us during that appointment that he didn't think there was more he could do. Halle had begun to lose bowel and bladder control. She was in severe, chronic, daily pain and she knew well before us that her body was shutting down. But on that day, Dr. G put our fears into reality. It was the first time someone put our fears into words. It may be time to look into hospice.

As we got in the car after that appointment, I rested my hand on Halle's leg and asked her if she wanted to talk about what we had just heard. Her response was quick and to the point. "NO! Not NOW!" She proceeded to crank up the radio and jam out to her favorite tunes. About twenty minutes into our drive home, she turned the music down and told me "okay, I am ready to talk now." She would often turn to music before she was ready to turn to us. She found a peace and comfort in Maroon 5, Kelly Clarkson, and Pink. She needed time to process what she had just heard. She needed time to figure out exactly how she was feeling. Music gave her that time. Music gave her that peace.

She also turned to music the day she went into Hospice. John, Halle and I walked in from filing out the paper work, that allowed Halle to say her goodbyes with dignity. We came home to her brother, sister and Gram and shared the difficult news. The room was quiet and somber. I turned to Halle to let her guide us through this powerful process. She simply smiled at me and said, "Let's Conga!" She turned on the music and we danced...we danced the conga line through the living room! We recorded that night as Halle danced and sang and told us all how much she loved us. It was through music that she was able to begin to let us go.

Music is a powerful tool. One that I didn't always appreciate. A tool that I didn't always know how to access. But Halle did and she taught me more than I ever knew I could learn through the power of song.

I was recently reminded of this power in music when I met David Ervast, a young man working on his Master's in Music Therapy. I asked him to share with us the many benefits of music therapy in the medical profession and he also shared some of his own personal experiences with music in working with people with disability. Check out the article David shared with us:

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