Inspiring Music-Related Stories from our RNs

Inspiring Music-Related Stories from our RNs

Story 1

“I had a patient that had end-stage dementia. Early in her life, she worked for a radio station and played the piano live on the radio. She was offered a job to travel the world playing the piano, she didn’t accept the offer so she could take care of her 5 daughters and raise a family. One of the things she didn’t forgot over time was how to play the piano.

“She was unable to care for herself independently, but put her in front of a piano and she could play away! I would sit with her during the day while music played, and you would see her fingers moving like she was playing the keys on a piano. It was honestly the coolest thing ever.”

Story 2

“While working with Angels Grace Hospice, one of the first patients that I had the pleasure of being present with during their passing, was one of several siblings. All of his siblings were all very involved in his care. This patient was admitted for Parkinson’s and was also showing signs of dementia, he had a hard time coping with the illnesses. He was known to the facility for being very restless at times but always maintained a great sense of humor.

“The day he passed, he had all of his siblings there with him, holding his hands and crying together. I felt the need to play Amazing Grace over my phone for this family, and the patient passed away less than a minute after the music ended. It was a beautiful and memorable moment for myself and for his loved ones.”

Story 3

This one isn’t about music but about a deep memory-related recording.

“I first met Andrew after my family and I emigrated to western Canada from the United States in 2008. We met through his sister and became firm friends after we discovered that we both played and loved rugby. He had recently adopted a young girl and boy from Zambia with his second wife to add to the two grown sons he had with his first wife and, being adopted himself, he understood what it meant to raise a family in the best possible supportive and loving environment.

“Having played rugby for several local teams and developing a reputation as a hard-nosed Number 8, the sport resonated with him from a young age, giving him what he needed to develop self-discipline and providing an outlet for his own challenges. He was a fan of the New Zealand “All Blacks” and often got up in the middle of the night to watch the Tri-Nations series live from “down under”.

“He also taught in a local First Nations school, helping to guide and teach the young people who themselves had many challenges similar to his, showing them how to live a fulfilling and productive life. He set a great example.

“Our families also camped together on many occasions, forming a bond that would grow into a valued relationship, full of respect and friendship for each other, as well as a beer or three. Andrew and I also spent time together watching live rugby, at one point re-connecting with an old Chicago friend who was managing the USA national team who came to Victoria to play Canada in a “B” international. It was a memorable day out.

“Then he got cancer.

“After many months of dealing with treatment, in late February 2023, he ended up in a local palliative care unit in his final weeks. He fell into a deep sleep for days as the end drew near so my wife and I were called to say goodbye. He was not conscious but we managed to say a difficult farewell. Many family members were there.

“For some reason, the very next morning I then decided to go back for one last visit on my own and had heard of the way that people who are in comas can “hear” music or a familiar voice, so decided to play a 15-minute video to him from my phone of the final moments of England’s Rugby World Cup victory in 2003.

I was interrupted by the nurses as they came in to briefly check on him then went back in to finish after they had left. In the final couple of minutes of the video after England had won, he opened his eyes but with no words. His eyes were just open. I was absolutely stunned but quickly left the room and then the hospital as his wife and son went to him. I drove to work in a cloud.

“An hour later, he was gone.

“The sound of the video must have reached deep down into his subconscious state and pulled him out to be awake for one last time, whether he was asking me why I was playing England for him when he was a New Zealand fan (one last joke from a friend) or whether he was thanking me for bringing him out to say his last goodbye to his wife and son through his eyes.

“We will never know but the human spirit is an amazing thing, especially when it comes to knowing what you truly love in your life and the power that can have to make your final journey more comfortable.”

You can read more about how music can affect out lives in our Behind the Music archive.