There is both qualitative and quantitative evidence to suggest that music has the capacity to fill liminal space and reach into the depths of consciousness. In part 1, we looked at brain wave research and consciousness in persons who are dying, indicating that music may be a bridge to accompany them through the transition from life into consciousness beyond.
The notion of music as a sound bridge in the liminal space is precisely what music thanatologist, Therese Shroeder-Sheker believes. Music thanatology is a musical practice of mid-wifery for dying people using the voice and harp in bedside vigil at imminent death and is based on this idea. Her personal belief in unending consciousness informs her musical approach as she uses music to help people cross over.
I have borne witness to the dying trajectories of three loved ones. It appeared to me that each one was most receptive to music when body systems were shutting down and their spirits were preparing to travel on. That in-between, liminal space can be filled with music based on neurological events taking place at death, the unique nature of music and the bridging of the two. My sense is that music in the liminal space between life and death is heard by the dying one and may, in fact, be helpful.
It was 18 years ago today that my dad died. Music was a big part of how I supported him through his illness and a significant part in how my brothers and sisters, mom and I let him go as we surrounded him in his hospital bed.
My personal experience with dad was a great teacher about the power of music at end of life. Since then, I have made the same journey with others. I have also given myself to disciplined study about the effects of music at the end of life’s journey.
Webinar: Using Room 217 Resources - Bev Foster