Over the past decade, caregiver pre-bereavement has received increased scholarly and clinical attention across multiple healthcare fields. Pre-bereavement represents a nascent area for music therapy to develop best practices in and an opportunity to establish clinical relevancy in the interdisciplinary team.
This study was an exploratory inquiry into the role of music therapy with pre-bereaved informal hospice caregivers. This study intended to articulate (a) what pre-bereavement needs are present for informal hospice caregivers, (b) which of those needs were addressed in music, and (c) the process by which music therapy addressed those needs.
A constructivist grounded theory methodology using situational analysis was used. We interviewed 14 currently bereaved informal hospice caregivers who had participated in music therapy with the care recipient.
Analysis resulted in a theoretical model of resource-oriented music therapy promoting caregiver resilience. The resource, caregivers’ stable caring relationships with care recipients through their pre-illness identities (i.e., spouse, parent, or child), is amplified through music therapy. Engagement with this resource mediates the risk of increased care burden and results in resilience fostering purposefulness and value in caregiving.
Resource-oriented music therapy provides a unique clinical avenue for supporting caregivers through pre-bereavement, and was acknowledged by caregivers as a unique and integral hospice service. Within this model, caregivers are better positioned to develop meaning from the experience of providing care through the death of a loved one.