Music Therapy for Bereaved Parents


Content by Lesley Holmes

July is Bereaved Parents Awareness Month, and we at Children’s Music Fund want to show support by sharing how music therapy can help parents cope with the loss of a child.

As a parent, there is nothing greater than the gift of a child. When your child is born, it fills a hole in your being that you didn’t even know was empty, let alone existed. When parents have to experience the death of a child, the loss is unexplainable.

One of the ways to deal with loss is by using music therapy as an effective tool in the bereavement process. Healing takes time and is gradual; music therapy can help.

In the three primary themes of Francesca Albergato-Myterspaw’s 2009 study of how music plays a role in the healing of grief, she first found that music has a significant connection with emotion. Music can be used to express oneself, music can be used as a distraction, and music can help with both self-reflection and reflection on past experiences that can lead to change in feelings and identity. Secondly, there is a sense of culture and community that is found in music that is vital in the grieving process and provides for a simple powerful tool. Lastly, music is a powerful way to give tribute to the lost ones.

As the Executive Director and a parent myself, one of my personal goals for Children’s Music Fund is to have recording devices in the hospitals, where we provide music therapy in order for terminally-ill children to record their music as a tangible memory–one that is created and shared not only for the children to soothe and enjoy, but also for the surviving families to have and remember something that brought their child joy in their final moments, something which distracted them from the illness or condition from which they suffered.

Below is a short playlist that has personally helped me through times of loss, especially in the areas of emotion, community and tribute. These songs are also featured in Standing Still Magazine’s “A Playlist for the Bereaved Parent,” where they share 50 songs to help in the grieving process. Take a listen:

Join us in showing support & telling the benefits of music therapy by sharing some of your favorite songs & playlists that help you cope. Be sure to use the hashtag #musicISsocial, and tag us @theCMForg.

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