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Music and grief: The Last Rose of Summer

Posted on 22 October 2020

In an earlier blog, I mentioned the possibility that Covid 19 might lead to a “tsunami” of mental health referrals. From what I’ve heard from friends and family, I think it is now coming ashore.

In my own family, we’re going through a time of grief after the oldest member of my generation has just passed away (Laura kindly mentioned him in her recent newsletter: my brother Simon Maddrell, who had been a long-term supported of the charity.) For me personally, it’s been a terrible shock (even though he was 82) and it has brought back grief about my other siblings who have all died now, leaving me facing ageing and death on the front line – I’ll be The Last Rose of Summer that might be shedding leaves soon, as the song says.

‘Tis the last rose of summer, left blooming all alone
All her lovely companions are faded and gone.
No flower of her kindred, no rose bud is nigh
To reflect back her blushes and give sigh for sigh.

I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one! to pine on the stem
Since the lovely are sleeping, go sleep thou with them
Thus kindly I scatter thy leaves o’er the bed
Where thy mates of the garden lie scentless and dead.

So many other people I know, not just oldies, are also in pain. I am coming to the conclusion that the reaction to the virus – the attempt to control it –has generated another sort of plague by intensifying fear, loneliness, and other social problems. Crucially, our ability to help each other with mental pain has been undermined, because we cannot share the load together.

My brother’s funeral was an example of what many have experienced since lockdown. I couldn’t be there – I just saw it via “live screening” (!) with no opportunity to meet up with friends and relatives. Normally, even after devastating deaths, funerals can be comforting, bringing people together, and renewing old connections.

Given this background, it is good news that NYMTC is starting a project called Resonance, designed to help those in mental pain from Covid. In a series of weekly group sessions, led by our associate therapist, Jane Troughton, people will experience the soothing effects of music, its role in bonding people together, and in helping them feel safe to explore emotions. I know from my own therapeutic work that this is what we need now.