by Sarah Pearson

Working in end-of-life care is a privilege and an honour. I am often humbled at the ways that families invite me in to share their final hours together. We begin as strangers, but as we introduce music into the relationship, a fast intimacy is established. Music is a spiritual language for many, and these encounters can feel mystical, sacred, and deeply connected. The paradoxes can feel blindingly strong. The searing pain of losing a loved one is as imminent as the flickers of peace, beauty, gratitude and grace that can befall the room of a dying person.

Making sense of suffering, death, and loss is a universal human struggle. For me, songwriting is my natural go-to way that I try to make sense of these mysteries.

Today I’m very happy to announce the release of a short EP of songs I wrote, and recorded here at a local studio in Kitchener, called “The Earth Was Built For It.” These are four songs that I’ve crafted over the past 9 months that, to me, reflect deeply the paradoxes I encounter in end-of-life care. They touch upon my own grief journey of receiving a diagnosis of chronic disease 5 years ago, juxtaposed with the gratitude I feel from continually witnessing the more profound suffering of others.

Many of Room 217’s followers and end-users are holding some deep losses. They are family caregivers or health care professionals witnessing some terrible suffering, and processing grief of their own. They connect with Room 217 because they recognize the power of music to find meaning and relationship through this suffering.

It’s for those stewards of grief that I would like to offer the closing track off the album, called “Topography.” It is a song written from the place of spiritual distress at a loss. It is also written from the place of deep understanding that grief is an organic human experience. While grief shapes us, becoming a part of our emotional and spiritual landscapes, there is meaning to be found in it. “The Earth was built for it…see what you can do with it.”

One of the great privileges of being an artist of any kind is the opportunity to offer healing and empathy through sharing our work. It is the same privilege I feel being invited into the room of strangers to offer music and connection as a music therapist. If you and I can connect today through the sharing of this song, the privilege is mine.