Six Ways Music Can Help with Grief

Music NotesAuthor: Heather Fellows, HCI Music Therapist 

The holidays have always been my favorite time of year. I have warm memories of decorating the Christmas tree with the hodge-podge mix of ornaments my brother and I made in elementary school, family dinner at grandma’s house, wrapping gifts and fluffing the bow just the way my mom taught me to do. The first few bars of a Johnny Mathis Christmas song will always take me back to that time. Even now that these loved ones have gone, music still has a way of connecting me to the memories and traditions of my past.

After a loss, it can be difficult to balance “moving on” with grief. We create new traditions and care for the responsibilities of daily life during the holidays, but those strong memories and deep feelings do arise, welcome or not. Music can be used as a tool for coping with grief and loss. It can help us process those feelings and move toward a place of acceptance.

Here are six ways music can help.

  1. Music provides a safe space to feel the emotions of loss. Songs have a beginning, a middle, and an end, so they provide a natural contained space for feeling emotions. Sometimes knowing you have three minutes until the song ends is a comfort.    Pick a song and listen, cry, yell, or do whatever you need to do, and know that in about three minutes, the song will be over.