Looking Forward, Not Forgetting

Music therapist Charlotte shares her experiences of working with a support group in Wales, using music to help people cope with end-of-life bereavement. The group was run by St Kentigern Hospice in St Asaph, alongside Charlotte and Family Support Officer Ann Atkin.

Harvey, Sue and Pauline attended bereavement support sessions at the hospice once a month for six months. I had the privilege of hearing their stories and gained an understanding of each of their grieving processes, and I felt that music could give them a new way of sharing and expressing their thoughts and feelings.

When I suggested we write a song, Harvey, Sue and Pauline embraced the idea, and were intrigued by the possibility of doing something completely new. We collected meaningful thoughts and quotes that had come out of our previous conversations for the song lyrics. The group decided that they wanted the song to reflect the pain, processing, glimmers of hope, learning and growing they had all been through.

When we’d written the song, Harvey, Sue and Pauline had a real sense of achievement and Harvey pointed out that “it’ll help others” too. It was inspiring to witness how they all worked together, looking ahead to the possibility of recording the song, and using it to help others going through bereavement.

Ann, the Family Support Officer who runs the group, commented to them that “of all the things we’ve done since September, this is the thing that you’ll remember, and this is what you’ll take away with you. It’s so therapeutic – it’s wonderful.”

We recorded the song professionally, thanks to Mark at Revelator Recording Studio in Llandudno, giving it a lasting form, which we’ve shared in the hope that it will help others experiencing bereavement to feel less alone.

Harvey, Sue and Pauline each took to the mic to sing their part, and having the experience of recording the song was such a positive ending to the bereavement support sessions, offering the group a whole new way of experiencing togetherness and support. Each step of the way, it was important to make sure that the group felt comfortable and happy, so as we listened back to each part, we encouraged them to offer their thoughts. The group embraced this new experience of recording with joy and courage, and despite the nature of the song, much of the time in the studio was spent laughing and having fun together.

It was a privilege for me to be a part of this, to get to know these people and I’m thankful they shared their experiences so openly, so that I could help them to create something tangible that we are all proud of, and that can be listened to again and again.

This is Harvey, Sue and Pauline’s song:

Looking Forward, Not Forgetting

Your smile would greet me every day, Your eyes could tell me all there was to say. You’re still with me in every way. I’m never alone just a heartbeat away.

Chorus:  An empty chair, one cup instead of two. But I will not walk alone. Looking forward, not forgetting that I am who I am because of you.

When I feel down, my world is grey

Memories we shared clear dark clouds away. You’re by my side to guide me on. Life’s different now but you make me strong.

(Chorus)

The world keeps on turning, the seasons change. I open my eyes, pain turns to hope and I smile.

The children play, the birds still sing, flowers bloom again each Spring. Grass grows green, the sky stays blue, I am who I am because of you.