There is nothing sad about the hospice experience; it’s actually quite joyful.
So says Elise Kohler, hospice music therapy volunteer and junior-year undergraduate at Montclair State University where she is working toward a music therapy degree. Kohler’s interest in music began in first grade after a teacher played the piano for her class; Kohler decided she needed to do the same to impress her friends, so she started taking lessons. By fourth grade, she added the flute to her instrument portfolio. In junior high, a friend’s aunt introduced her to music as a healing profession by sharing the details of her job as a music therapist.
The possibility interested Kohler, who experienced the benefits of music firsthand with two cousins on the autism spectrum who responded positively to it. She decided then to devote her career to teens and young adults using music as a therapeutic tool. She never expected to be doing so as part of a hospice program, but loves it because of the fulfillment it brings, to her patients and herself. “To be part of this process is such a special thing,” she said, “I am a provider of unity and joy. There is not much that is better than that.”