I'm more and more inspired by this idea as it takes shape. From the perspective of a musician, I want to chime in on this idea of Making Meaning at the end of life. The bigger goal that Ned writes about above, in my mind, not only includes making meaning for the people who are dying and their loved ones, but also for the musicians. Singing for dying people is most meaningful thing I've ever done with my music. Creating a channel for individuals who otherwise might not have much contact with dying people, to participate in the movement toward bringing death out of the shadows and back in its place of honor and care. So in my mind, this is for everyone. For the dying, their loved ones, for the musicians, and for the audience of the work created through this process. It's an extension of what is already going on at the You're Going To Die events, where we let songs, stories, talk of death and grief inhabit the room with us. It's part of the movement to bring death into the awareness of more people, in increasingly authentic ways.
To continue my thoughts about the musicians specifically.. It can be difficult sometimes, as a songwriter and performer to feel like we are offering something of value. Writing songs for a dying person's enjoyment, comfort, legacy is meaningful in a more concrete way. Offering a person a song lets both the dying person and the writer feel seen and heard in a way that maybe neither of them have felt. The possibility for human connection and expansion of our capacity for compassion is huge.
As for logistics.. I like the idea of piggy backing on a training program already in place through a hospice organization, or having musicians accompanied by trained nurses or volunteers. I would hope we can come up with an easeful way for musicians to get on board. As in- not too much hassle. I'd love to keep the process face-to-face and without a ton of forms or formalities. But I understand some of that will be needed. I just envision it being a very people-oriented organization, where everyone involved can easily get ahold of someone within the org to talk to about any issues or needs that may arise.
Wow, I am so excited about this possibility as a musician. I've had the call for awhile now to sing to dying people and I've been patiently paying attention to how this might weave into my life in a way that feels natural and functional for me, as working parent of a toddler. I had the incredible honor of singing for my grandpa as he died a few years ago, and when I reflect on that day, I think it might be the most I mportant thing I've done in my life thus far (or at least on par with giving birth!) It's a strange feeling. It just surpassed all previous moments of meaningfulness in my musical offerings. Death is a sacred time that has been pushed to the shadows of our culture, behind doors, away from the living. It doesn't need to be that way. Death is a part of all of us. I'm so happy to be a part of this movement toward honoring the dying time of a persons life.
An important structural aspect of this idea for me, is that musicians, artists, poets can participate in a way that is sustainable for them and their families. It is a joy to volunteer, and it is also not realistic for a lot of artists who have so much to offer. If set up as a non-profit, this organization could raise funds form a variety of sources to cover compensation for artists.
Wow. Again, I'm just so excited about this! It is an answer to a very real need in our community.