Published on March 16, 2022
I wanted to share the following narrative provided by our hospice volunteer Sung Jin Lee. Sung Jin is a Vanderbilt student who visits weekly and plays the clarinet at the bedside and also will play the piano in the music room, at the Residence in Nashville. He is SUCH a sweet soul and has made a huge impact since starting with us last fall! There have been several families that have commented on how his volunteer visits were so beautiful, and perfectly timed, for their loved ones…
I was playing my clarinet in the Family Room when the wife of a patient approached me and said, “I am not a musician, but your music really moved me. Could you play for my husband? He has been a musician since childhood, and he is not doing so well today.”
I followed her to his bedside where he was unresponsive. I asked her what his favorite artists and genres of music were. He had grown up in a musical family and played many of Nashville’s most famous venues. As a musician, he enjoyed listening to all types of music. Some of his favorites were Radiohead, the Beatles, old rock, and country music.
I began playing “Let it Be” and “Hey Jude” by the Beatles. I am not sure if I was imagining it, but I thought I heard his effortful breathing relax just a bit. His wife smiled and told me, “He’s listening.”
I continued to play “Creep” by Radiohead and then “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. Shortly after, his vitals dropped, and his nurse let us know he was dying. His wife turned to me, and told me, “He would’ve wanted his last sound on earth to be one of peace and music, not weeping. Play a song on your heart.”
I serenaded him with “Country Roads, Take Me Home” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” as he passed away. His wife and I shared an embrace, and we grieved together. I am honored I could comfort this patient and his family in his final moments.
Learn more about the importance of talking to your loved ones about their final wishes.