• Print Print
  • Share
  • Text Size: A | A | A

Harpists provide comfort to patients and families at PRMCE

March 30, 2017
People often are surprised when they see a harp in the hospital. Sometimes we point to the harp and say, “This is medical equipment”, which often elicits a smile or a chuckle. Most people get it. The soothing sound of the harp reduces anxiety, helps people rest, creates a sense of peace, AND it is completely safe. Harps belong in hospitals!

The harpists you see at PRMCE are certified music-thanatologists meaning they are specially trained to provide music at the bedside using harp and voice to offer comfort and support for patients and their loved ones. With the harps we create “musical medicine”. Often the patients we play for are facing overwhelming losses, especially if they are facing end of life. The musical medicine we offer is prescriptive to the patient and creates an atmosphere of loving kindness that can be profoundly soothing. Deeply spiritual in intention (yet not identified with a particular religion), the musical visits are also very practical. Often we find the music has helped calm respiration rates and reduce blood pressure as people rest and find peace.

Examples of when a music-thanatology visit may be helpful:

* Patients with a terminal diagnosis or actively dying.
* Those with fear, confusion and/or anxiety.
* Those experiencing emotional or spiritual suffering.
* Those with severe physical pain.
* Patients who are comatose on life support.
* Anyone in need of contemplation and time for reflection.

We play our harps for the dying to ease their fears and surround them with a sense of beauty and blessing. We play our harps for those suffering with pain, anxiety, and dementia, to bring them comfort. The therapeutic harp music is not meant to be “entertainment” but is a living language that communicates without words. The music carries and accompanies us into the unknown and helps us process our thoughts and release our fears and attachments. The music is also beneficial for the patient’s loved ones who might be present, helping them to rest and contemplate. These are some of the healing benefits of music-thanatology.

Harps belong in hospitals and we are grateful to the Spiritual Care Department at PRMCE for supporting this soothing therapy for patients. You will also find music-thanatologists at the following Providence hospitals:

Oregon: Providence Portland, St. Vincent and Willamette Falls Medical Centers.
Washington: PRMCE, Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane, St. Peter in Olympia.
Montana: St. Patrick’s Hospital in Missoula.

To request a harpist at PRMCE, call the Spiritual Care Department at 425-261-4550.