Death, Dying…and those other things we don’t like to talk about.

One thing school doesn’t necessarily prepare you for? Dealing with patients who are rapidly declining. It can be extrememly heart wrentching and emotional for everyone around them- including you, the therapist.  Today was one of those days.  Not only did a patient pass away moments after I was in the room with them, but a patient I felt a huge connection with last week has since declined to a nearly delusional and comatose state.  I left my morning sessions feeling emotional and off balanced.

How do we deal with moments like these… especially students and interns who are still fresh in the field?  Even for a seasoned professional, days like this can have a real impact.  At times it can be a real taboo topic to admit you have a connection with a patient, that you felt something, and that you’re having a hard time separating that from your personal life.  It has to leak into it somehow, right?… we’re only human afterall.

So here is my conclusion:

  • Life happens.. it’s how you handle it that’s important.
  • It’s ok to ask for help and admit you need someone to talk to.
  • Human connection is inevitable- but that’s what is also so incredible about our job as a music therapist
  • Separating home from work is critical- but it’s also ok to let those experiences teach you a lot about life and yourself
  • It’s all part of growing as a person and a professional
Effectice Coping Strategies:
  1. Journal, write, play music, do a mandala- express what you’re feeling and process it
  2. Talk to someone you trust so you can process what you’re feeling
  3. Know your limits
Rough day- but many more wonderful one’s to look forward to.

1 Comment

Filed under Music Therapy

One response to “Death, Dying…and those other things we don’t like to talk about.

  1. soundscapemusictherapy

    Hey! I just saw your post. I can definitely relate with the difficulty of losing clients. Figuring out boundaries is important. Part of the difficulty is that we don’t want to keep ourselves distant out of fear of losing the patient, because then we can’t be effective as therapists. (Plus, detachment is a sign of burnout.) Taking time for reflection is important for me, whether that’s a moment of prayer, playing my client’s favorite song once more in their honor, or journaling about the relationship we had. Talking with other therapists certainly helps, too. Thank you for this important and honest post!

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