Living With Dying articles
A Heart-to-heart connection - online extras
By Leah Carey
July 5, 2016
Continua sings in the presence of death and dying regularly. But in the wake of Alan Parker’s death, they are having to look more closely at how they personally interact with death more closely.
Two of the Continua members, Ela Golden and Elisa Lucozzi, spoke last week about the thoughts and feelings this personal loss is bringing up for them.
These are their words, edited for length and clarity.
“I’m realizing that I have my own ways of coping around death. I don’t believe in erecting an altar to show, This is my grief.
For Alan – and for anybody that we sing for – we all come to the bedside of death bringing our own experience with death and our thoughts about it. As well as holding a space for the family to be vulnerable and letting them have this space of grief and emotion.
How can we sing in the face of such deep grief? I think we all have our coping mechanisms. And it’s not like there won’t ever be tears or emotion, but this isn’t mine. This is your time.
I think of what would best serve this person. What is it that they need? You try to check your ego at the door.
And then what I’m always looking at is: am I being of service? Or is my own ego wanting to show how helpful I am? Or what can I do for you in your moment of sorrow, so that it’s feeding into my own sorrow and grief?
Am I clear within my own intention and what it is that I want to do?
With Alan, we weren’t a blubbering mess. There were some tears, but there was some laughter. He will be missed.
Perhaps it forever changes the way you interact with people. Not setting aside, let’s not just talk about having lunch sometimes. Let’s set a date.”
“Sometimes it’s harder to sing for someone I know because there are more emotions involved. But I’ve often been surprised by the emotions that come up when I’m singing for somebody I don’t know well, because it’s such a sacred time in somebody’s life.
This is just about full connection, human-to-human connection that goes far beyond any religion. That’s what we strive for in life, to be able to have a heart-to-heart connection with somebody where the stuff of daily life falls away.
When I tell people that I sing in a hospice choir their reaction is often, That must be really morbid, or How brave of you to take that on. I don’t think people realize how much we laugh together.
There’s nothing like talking about and dealing with death on a regular basis to make you value the time you have right now. I think every death does that for me. I can honestly say that there’s been a piece of everybody’s story that I’ve gone to sing for that I hope I’ve internalized in some way.”