According to Tiffany Lee, if you have heart, anything is possible. Lee, a RVNAhealth music therapy hospice volunteer, would know. She is all heart.
A Hong Kong native and second-year graduate student in Montclair University’s music therapy program, Lee is devoting her practicum, or field work, to hospice service where she brings the joy and unity of music to terminally-ill patients and their families. Spending hours with those who are dying has reiterated the meaning of life and, for Lee, it is connectedness. In her native culture, family and loved ones are life’s foundation and the transition to the United States, where independence is revered, was difficult for Lee, who struggled with feelings of depression herself. Lee attributes the opportunity to do hospice work for restoring her own health. “I get so much more than I give,” she said of the connections she makes with patients and their loved ones. “it is a privilege and honor to spend this sacred time with people.”
The mandatory sixteen hour hospice training was a welcome preparation to the time Lee spends bedside with patients playing the guitar, using singing bowls, or thumping soft percussion, depending on patient preference on any given day, because she learned what to expect. Bearing witness to the power of living and developing relationships with patients to understand what they want and need have been the greatest rewards of her hospice volunteer service. She recalled a patient she’s been seeing for two months who consistently told her to “go away,” yet tapped her fingers when Lee played the guitar. When Lee entered her room for their last visit, the woman opened her arms and declared, “Welcome. I am so happy you’re here.” For Tiffany Lee, the feeling is mutual.