“Music a part of pain care, healing” Music-thanatology in the Catholic Sentinel

Music-thanatologists Laura Moya and Andrea Partenheimer were recently featured in the Catholic Sentinel. Music-thanatology has been integrated into care at two Providence hospitals in Portland, Oregon for more than a decade. As Fr. Bruce Cwiekowski, Director of Spiritual Care at Providence Portland Medical Center, puts it, “Music thanatology reminds us that this is as sacred a moment as birthing, despite the sorrow.”

The patient featured in the story, Richard Redmond, was reluctant to allow music-thanatology into his hospital room. A 92-year-old retired Navy officer, he was not a particular fan of soft music. But once he experienced the music vigil, he asked that the music-thanatologist return. His son noted his own experience of relaxation while listening to the music.

It is sometimes challenging to introduce music-thanatology. Where else can we experience music tailored specifically to us, to our breath, to our facial expression and heart rate? How often does a stranger with a harp share intimate moments of saying good-bye to our loved ones? But when the door is opened, even slightly, to music-thanatology, patients and families most often have an experience of beauty, reverence, and calm that transforms their initial skepticism and invites music to continue to accompany them.

2 thoughts on ““Music a part of pain care, healing” Music-thanatology in the Catholic Sentinel

  1. Wonderful post Jennifer. Thank you! Incidentally, just today I gave a presentation at the MIT to Faculty and Alumni on Reiki, Acutonics, Therapeutic Harp, and Harp Thanatology. I brought your book and mentioned you. It was a great session. I’ll be sure to keep in touch – Autumn blessings to you! -Catherine

    1. Wonderful, Catherine! I’m glad to hear your session at MIT went well, and thank you for thinking of mentioning my book. What an honor! Hope your fall is going well!

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