"With a cheer, not a tear" she goes on to sing, but I confess, while we've focused on the cheer, there's certainly been many a tear this week too. When I woke in the night unable to sleep, as I drove to work, as a client was reminded it was my last day, when another client was explained that I wouldn't be coming back and although we hadn't heard her say anything for months she replied, "Oh what a shame", shed a tear and then sang with us, as staff thanked me for my "magic" as they call it, as I read a thank you card from a client's daughter, as I drove home.
It helped in those moments with others, being able to share that the organisation I was working for was changing and that meant that I was finishing. At the same time, that it's changing and that it means I've finished has been very hard. And of course, there have been many queries of "Why?". And so in the moments on my own I've been holding onto my moments with my clients. I wish I could sing them all from the rooftop, but can't without consent, and there are so many I'd be here Forever and Ever or at the very least Forever Blowing Bubbles... So you'll have to take it from me and the plethora of other music therapists around the globe and the research they've done and are doing: music therapy is golden for our golden oldies living with dementia :)
I have met some incredible people. I have been awed by their motivation within music, I have been touched by the fascinating stories and life experiences they have shared when the music has captured them. I have celebrated with staff and families and clients themselves when something within them has sparked and all of a sudden they're watching, or they're up and dancing, or singing with all the words, or drumming like only a military man could. Thank you to musicians like Elvis, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Howard Morrison, Pixie Williams... the list goes on. Because of you, people have been able to reconnect with themselves, as well as with others.
I had done a countdown board, a visual representation using images taken off each week, as time went by, to support people's understanding and help prepare them for the ending. Thank you to my past mentors and music therapists for sharing this gem of a strategy with me, not only did it extrapolate to the older generation living with dementia, it was also very helpful for my own preparation and process. As has nice hot cups of tea, the seaside - oh how I do love it (skip to 0:46) -, and sharing my load.
Thank you to everyone who contributed to the Music Moves Me Trust as a clinical service and funding organisation. All the volunteers, crafters, bakers, gifters, donors, fundraising stall holders, purchasers, gala concert organisers and attendees, care home staff, trustees, advisors, music therapists and everyone. Know that your contributions were valued. Compoundingly. Thank you to you all, and to the 113 residents and families, for allowing me the privilege and pleasure over the past almost two years. I will miss you all.
NZ Registered Music Therapist, co-creator, songbird, collaborator, advocate, lover-of-music.