This past Monday we were blessed in Colorado with beautiful weather for Labor Day here in the US. Motivated by this warm weather, I decided to stop by the garden of the Callahan House so that I could take in its beauty while there were still flowers in bloom.
Being there in the garden caused me to reflect upon the hymn, “In the Garden,” which is a song highly requested by the patients whom I work with in hospice. There are several different reasons why I have found this song to be so popular.
- First, many of my patients have early childhood connections to this song. They may remember hearing or singing it as a child in church. Still others may have memories of family members who would sing this song around the house. This often brings back fond memories of early childhood, as well as provides for a sense of safety and comfort as they process through their own lives.
- Second, the imagery in this song is quite vivid. Several patients have told me about how comforting and peaceful it is to imagine themselves standing in this garden. Some people have even been able to feel the dew and smell the roses!
- The third reason is the spiritual interaction and communication that is alluded to in this song. The description of standing alone in a garden with Jesus, whom these patients identify as being their Savior, is a very intimate one. This again seems to provide patients with a sense of security and peace during what is a frightening time for many people.
While many people are uncomfortable talking about the possibility of their own deaths, dying is an inevitable part of life. I find that music can be an especially powerful way for people to reflect upon and make peace with the lives they’ve lived and the decisions they’ve made in life. I consider it to be an honor to bring music to people in this way.
Below is a link to the video recording I made of myself singing “In the Garden” that day at the Callahan House. This recording is the first in what I hope to be an ongoing series of music I use in my hospice work and the reasons behind why I use them.
I would love to know what songs you would find to be meaningful, either for yourself or in the work that you do if you are also a hospice music therapist. Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!