Dying Patient Leaves a Musical Legacy

by J-Touchette

Kennedy-Tufts helps palliative patients make sure "the tune will come to you at last".

Sheri Swick loved her three kids and four grandkids. She wanted to leave something for them to remember her by. She was in palliative care in a hospital in London, Ontario when Jill Kennedy-Tufts, the hospital’s musical therapist, agreed to help Swick record a legacy. The hospital and Kennedy-Tufts have used this program to optimize the quality of life for palliative patients and their families.

Swick, who had a brain tumor, recorded two songs and personalized messages for her loved ones with the help of Kennedy-Tufts. She recorded the songs Jesus Loves Me and Jesus Loves the Little Children, in one hour sessions that often left her exhausted. “I’m dying of cancer. And, I want to leave something to my kids. I want them to have something when their mom goes, when I go.” says Swick.

This kind of project is not for everyone. Kennedy-Tufts looks for specific indicators such as a level of health and a love of music.

As the sessions went on, Swick would become confused and was often in pain, in those times, Kennedy-Tuft helped her remain focused. While one of her children is unsure he’ll be able to listen to the recording, he did agree it was a good idea.

Leaving a legacy, such as the songs recorded by Swick for her family can help with the grieving process as it creates a link between the deceased person and his or her loved ones. Families discover the true feelings of their loved one and the program helps people in the palliative stage of their lives realize that their life has made a difference.

Swick died April 14, 2011.

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