Music therapy is an important part of what Hospice of the Midwest has to offer our patients. Our Music Therapist, Crystal Berkenes, provides services that help with pain management and end-of-life support. Crystal utilizes music and instrumentation to reach non-musical goals, increase self-expression and decrease anxiety or restlessness. Collaborating with team members who work with the patients daily, Crystal can create a music therapy plan that is tailored to what the patients connect to.
When one patient mentioned to Crystal his fond memories of sitting around a campfire while singing songs and making music with guitars and spoons, she had an idea. Crystal and another team member began putting together a special campfire experience for this patient by finding and researching how they could create a campfire experience without the real fire. Due to the patient being on oxygen, a real fire was simply not an option, so the team members found a faux battery-powered campfire online for them to sit around and sing.
The patient got his campfire experience. As Crystal plucked at her banjo & another team member strummed her guitar, they sang along to campfire songs with the patient. Person after person kept stopping by, commenting on how life-like the fire was and listening to the music. Weeks later, patients continued bring up the experience. Crystal even remembers the patient belly-laughing when someone asked if they were roasting marsh mellows on the fire.
“You could almost feel the warmth in the room because of the flame and music we were creating,” stated the patient.
This experience was really geared towards the patient and what was important for him. That’s the special thing about music therapy. Music therapists are able to listen to the patients and act on what they hear by making it a reality and helping them through music.
By giving this patient, and many others, personal experiences through music, music therapists help take away the pain in that moment. Here at Hospice of the Midwest we strive to make our patients more comfortable, and with the help from our therapists like Crystal Berkenes, that’s possible.
The patient put it best when he said, “It has always been important, throughout my entire life, that people are able to have experiences like these with music.” As he has reflected on lyrics toward deeper meaning for his life he recalls, “All my life’s a circle…”