All In This Together: Processing Grief with Adults with Special Needs
Death is hard to process, and grief is hard to communicate. For an individual with special needs the challenges of grief are different, and music can play a significant role in working through those challenges head on.
As I arrived at the Day Program for Adults with Special Needs this week, a lot of the clients were really emotional. I found out previously that one of the clients who attended the day program had passed away. I continued on with my planned session, thinking in the back of my head how to provide an opportunity for these clients to
process these feelings in an appropriate way.
They played a game of “Name that Tune” Disney style, but got a bonus point for their team if they performed the song. Throughout the game, the clients were encouraging each other, cheering each other on, laughing, and performing for one another.
Then we got to the song “We’re All in This Together” from High School Musical. Of course they guessed it right away (they LOVE High School Musical), but by the end of the song, every single client was on their feet and singing the lyrics.
We’re all in this together,
And it shows when we stand hand in hand
Together we’re there for, each other every time.
At the very end, one of the clients shouted “For Nadia!”. And they all in unison rejoiced together “For Nadia!”.
It was such a moving moment. Death is such a hard thing to process, especially for someone with additional learning and processing differences.
The music created a space for the clients to come together and remember their friend and express their emotions through the music.
And really, what could be better in a time of grief and sorrow than to be together with those who loved the person who died as much as you. The music connected these special individuals in their grief as well as in their celebration of Nadia’s life.
What a powerful moment. One I will never forget.
–Cassie Bringhurst, MT-BC