Music Care Stories: A Caregiver's Thank You

by Sarah Pearson

It’s not always easy for caregivers to know if their work has made a difference. Feeling helpless is a common feeling for caregivers, and a sign of caregiver burnout.1  This story comes from a musician caregiver Nicholas Stirling, who runs drumming and storytelling workshops at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto. Nicholas recently participated in the pilot MCCP Level 2 course, where he shared this story.

Her weeping was often spontaneous.

Neither the nurses nor myself could know when or why “Christine” would suddenly empty into sadness and tears during a seemingly joyous drum circle.

Each week as I hosted this drumming storytelling circle in the schizophrenia unit, I was constantly enlightened by the unplanned improvised and emotional nature of our client personalities. Happy, sad, silent and vocal.

I remember Christine to this day, because after an entire year of weekly drumming sessions, during which she seldom appeared happy or content, it came to Christmas time. Amongst several cards I received thanking me for my work, was one from her. A flower on front, and inside was written:

“Thank you for being born.”

Many of us, I’m sure, can relate to the magnitude of this moment of validation in a caregiver’s life. Learning that our care is making an impact in the lives of others is what keeps many caregivers going. This story can serve as a reminder to caregivers to never underestimate the power of presence, of relationship, and of caring through music.

1Van Dernoot Lipsky, L. (2009). Trauma Stewardship. San Francisco: Berret-Koehler Publishers, p. 49.