For most if not all of us it’s hard heading back to work after a holiday break. For me, I returned this year knowing that one of my clients may have passed away. I knew that after 3 weeks the condition of a likely few may have not improved or deteriorated further. What I hadn’t anticipated was just how many, and just how much, and the unexpected. And how it would affect me, first week back. And so, I’ve come away knowing that I need to do something more than speaking with colleagues and with families. I also returned to work knowing that I would soon be finishing with many of my clients and colleagues due to a piece of work ending, and so I face these next few months not yet with the prospect of a fresh new year, but first with many farewells, and many endings.
Within many places I work when we sing the classic “Now is the Hour” I often make the comment, “It holds different things for different people, doesn’t it”? It’s my way of acknowledging the loss the song might hold, the memories of difficult times during war and long after, the people, the experiences, the emotions – both negative and positive. Almost every time this comment is responded to with a murmur, a few nodding heads, a look of significance that seems to say, thank you for acknowledging where I’m at.
Today I share with you this recording of “Now is the Hour” as my way of saying goodbye to those I wasn’t able to in person. I see it as a song of farewell, of acceptance, and of the idea and hope that we’ll be remembered and held in the minds of those we leave behind, whether it’s through a change of circumstances or end of life, whatever your beliefs.
also...Vera Lynn, Margaret Whiting, Bing Crosby, Hayley Westenra (who also sang it in te reo Māori and English)
It’s a part of all my work really. With seeing approximately 100 people each week, all of whom living with vulnerable conditions, many of whom older than 65 years of age, the possibility and likelihood that within each week there will be loss is high. And the overall aim is to make myself redundant, so farewells can be a celebration. In a couple of my workplaces the work involves one-off or short-term sessions, so farewells can be open-ended with possibilities of another time. On some occasions I’m seeing someone for the exact reason there may likely not be another time. The work of a therapist is confidential, with occasions in which I gain consent to share a case study for particular purposes. So when I get home from a hard day, all I’m really able to share is that I’ve had a hard day. Most often my response to how was your day, as my husband will often anticipate with a wry smile, is, “Mixed”. Clinical supervision is where I get to unpack the nitty gritty of my work stories. I’m able to tell friends the places I work in and talk in general ways about the reasons I might work with people needing certain types of support, and hope that they read between the lines when I’ve had a hard day.
Same goes for everyone though, you never know what might be going on for someone in their day or week, at work or at home. You never know what they can’t say, or don’t want to say, or aren’t ready to say, or if there are lines and if you should be trying to read between them – or if it’s enough to just be there.
Wherever you’re at as you head back to work, or as you continue working through 2019, as someone very wise often reminds me - go gently.
Go gently and hold onto the positives.
Today I hold onto the sparks of meaningful connection I made with people through music, and which they made with others, and what I saw it meaning to them. The sparks of significant progress and positive shared experiences through making music with others, laughing, singing, reminiscing and discussing favourite musicians and memories associated with favourite songs, improvising their own lyrics, writing and recording their own songs, willing to explore new instruments, returning to their favourites, playing an instrument alongside someone else, listening to others’ play, encouraging others to play. All towards their goals, from emotional regulation through holding a drumstick (that later lead to them using a spoon). Thank you to you all, go gently.
NZ Registered Music Therapist, co-creator, songbird, collaborator, advocate, lover-of-music.