When one works in palliative care, one is faced with death every day.

I work at the Palliative Care Unit in the Department of Medical Oncology at Centre Fòrum, a hospital in Barcelona, Spain.  People often ask, “Why would anyone want to work in palliative care?  Isn’t it depressing and sad?”  One might think so, but paradoxically that’s often not the case.  When we know the end is near, we are often more determined that ever to squeeze life out of our remaining days and be positive – and it often has an inspiring effect on the hospital’s staff.

It’s a challenge to bring forth positive, healing, and life-affirming experiences when we are sick, in emotional or physical pain.  And if we are stuck in a hospital bed in a sterile white room, knowing our lives are likely nearing an end, that’s even more challenging.  But that’s why music therapy is such a powerful intervention in palliative care and hospice.  The end of one’s life is an obvious time for reflection, and music therapy contains multiple mechanisms that can provide physical, psychological, emotional, expressive, existential/spiritual and social support at this stage: Continue reading