End-of-Life Resources

Music Therapy Resources

"Now the darkness only stays the night time
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good at arriving at the right time
It's not always gonna be this grey
All things must pass
All things must pass away"

George Harrison

Each experience is different at the end of life. Death can come suddenly, or a person may linger in a near-death state for days, weeks, or even months. For some older adults, the body weakens while the mind stays clear. Others remain physically strong while cognitive function declines. It's common to wonder what happens when someone is dying. You may want to know how to provide comfort, what to say, or what to do.

Music therapy in end‐of‐life care aims to improve a person's quality of life by helping relieve symptoms, addressing psychological needs, offering support, facilitating communication, and meeting spiritual needs. In addition, music therapists assist families and caregivers with coping, communication, and grief/bereavement. Here are some resources and links to help you navigate and process this challenging but meaningful journey.

Graceful Passages:
A Companion for Living and Dying

Through words and music, these digitally downloadable tracks beautifully offer a renewal of faith to anyone struggling with grief or loss. The featured heartfelt messages from some of the world’s internationally recognized wisdom keepers, such as Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Ram Dass, Thich Nhat Hanh, Rev. Alan Jones, and Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, are set to original soul-stirring music, creating an atmosphere of relaxation, insight, and healing. Created by Emmy award-winning composer/producer Gary Malkin and pioneering healing music artist Michael Stillwater, Graceful Passages addresses themes of letting go, closure, expressing love, forgiveness, appreciation of life, and continuity of spirit from different perspectives and faith traditions.

Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish clergy are represented, as well as First Nation American, Confucian, and Buddhist voices, creating a genuinely multi-faith resource.

The compelling musical score, lovely still-life photographs, and elegant design invite the reader and listener to reflect upon what matters most in life. Considered iconic by those in the field, this work has raised the bar for music-infused resources for comfort, healing, and human expression.

The Beat of the Heartbeat Music Therapy
Helps Parents Cope with Loss of Teen

Brian Schreck, a music therapist at Cincinnati Children's, helps patients and families dealing with a severe illness or end-of-life diagnosis cope and grieve through innovative music therapy.

Brian records a patient's heartbeat and adds it to music that is meaningful to the patient and family members. The result is the preservation of the patient's legacy in the form of music.

In this video, the Bennett family describes how the therapy helped them through losing their 14-year-old son, Dylan. They listen to the song every single day.

The Beat of the Heart

The Beat of the Heart is a feature-length documentary film by Jeremy Frindel that explores the revolutionary work of music therapist Brian Schreck. Based at the Norton Cancer Institute in Louisville, Brian has been recording the heartbeats of cancer patients into unique musical compositions written by the patients and their families. Just as each individual’s heartbeat is unique, each musical composition becomes a celebration of the individual beauty and spirit of each of the patients involved.

The film will closely follow several patients through their treatment process, exploring how Brian’s unique therapeutic approach can change how people interact with illness and navigate through the complicated trajectory of their diagnoses. Brian’s work offers a rarely seen window into some of the most challenging aspects of dealing with a severe illness, as he works to bring moments of beauty and celebration amid intense suffering and grief. And in the process, providing the family with a continuous beautiful piece of their loved ones: their strong heart continuing to beat through a piece of music that mirrors life and connects with their presence and never-ending love.

Through Brian’s work and the stories that unfold with the patients we follow, the film will be a portrait and meditation on how we walk through the journey of illness and potentially into the end of life—exploring how we can bring intention and creativity to living with illness and finding peace and joy in the darkness of the unknown.


This documentary introduces us to Stephen Jenkinson, once the leader of a palliative care counseling team at Toronto's Mount Sinai Hospital. Through his daytime job, he has been on the deathbed of over 1,000 people. He says that what he sees over and over is "a wretched anxiety and an existential terror" even when there is no pain. Indicting the practice of palliative care, he has made it his life's mission to change how we die - to turn the act of dying from denial and resistance into an essential part of life.

The Tibetan Book of the Dead (Documentary)

Death is natural, it comes without warning, and Death cannot escape it. An ancient source of strength and guidance, The Tibetan Book of the Dead remains an essential teaching in the Buddhist cultures of the Himalayas.

Narrated by Leonard Cohen, this enlightening two-part series explores the sacred text and boldly visualizes the afterlife according to its profound wisdom.

Part 1: “A Way of Life” reveals the history of The Tibetan Book of the Dead and examines its traditional use in northern India and its acceptance in Western hospices. The film, shot over four months, features footage of the rites and liturgies for a deceased Ladakhi elder and an interview with the Dalai Lama, who discusses the book's significance and importance.

Part 2: “The Great Liberation” follows an old lama and his novice monk as they guide a Himalayan villager into the afterlife using readings from The Tibetan Book of The Dead. The soul's 49-day journey towards rebirth is envisioned through actual photography of rarely seen Buddhist rituals, interwoven with groundbreaking animation by internationally acclaimed filmmaker Ishu Patel.

Binaural Beats

To explore binaural beats, you only need a pair of headphones or earbuds. Binaural beats require the use of headphones to work. You may also want to listen with your eyes closed.