Crossing the River Styx: the power of music, spirituality and religion at the end of life

Barbara Salas

Abstract


Dying from a terminal illness involves a period of transition throughout which the person deals with multiple losses, including the loss of one’s own life. The awareness of death makes the individual confront spiritual questions that touch the very nature of existence, and music can help intensify that spiritual experience bringing new meaning to the end of life. The reasons why spirituality, religion and music can facilitate the existential quest for meaning and provide an overall improvement of the quality of life at the end of life will be explored, aiming to suggest that a humanist approach to end-of-life care in which alleviation of suffering and consideration of the specific needsof the patient including spiritual care and therapy with music would be desirable to help patients during the dying process.

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