How can music therapy help a cancer patient deal with grief?

Nimesh P. Nagarsheth, MD
Gynecologic Oncology
Using music as a tool to help patients manage the grieving process is not a new concept, and scientific studies have shown that patients can benefit from this approach. In 2006, researchers Dalton and Krout published their work on the development and implementation of the Grief Song-Writing Process (GSWP). This study focused on bereaved adolescents and was divided into three parts.

First, the themes and core concerns that emerged in over 100 songs that had been written by adolescents undergoing individual music therapy sessions were analyzed. The authors then compared these themes with existing grieving models and created a new integrated grieving model (derived partly from this musical approach) that included the stages of understanding, feeling, remembering, integrating, and growing. Finally, based on the information above, the researchers created and implemented a seven-session songwriting workshop. The adolescents were asked to write original lyrics and songs based on each of the five stages of grieving that had been identified through the musical inspiration, and greatly benefited from this exercise.

Although this study focused on bereaved adolescents, there is no reason to believe that cancer patients going through the grieving process would not benefit from similar exercises of writing songs.
Music And Cancer: A Prescription For Healing

More About this Book

Music And Cancer: A Prescription For Healing

From diagnosis to end-of-life care to the meaning behind life with cancer, Music and Cancer: A Prescription for Healing is designed to improve the quality of life of people affected by cancer in a...

Continue Learning about Music Therapy

Sing for Your Health!
Sing for Your Health!
Seven-time Grammy Award winner Gladys Knight first recorded “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” in 1967. Since those early days, the indefatigable Ms. ...
Read More
What is music therapy?
Trident Medical Center Trident Medical Center
Music therapy can be used to help patients cope with stressful or traumatic events. In this video, m...
More Answers
Is music good for me?
Dr. Robin Miller, MDDr. Robin Miller, MD
Studies have shown that music stimulates the same area of the brain as food and sex. In this video, ...
More Answers
Music Builds Brain Power
Music Builds Brain Power

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.