Dr. Ira Byock
The nature of illness often entails discomfort and disability. People who are seriously ill may experience life as constrained, gray, monotonous, and devoid of joy. Threshold Choirs offer their voices to uplift — to lift up — people feeling the weight of illness and the burden of difficult transitions. Music is a gift of beauty that complements medicine and en-souls human caring.
— Ira Byock, M.D., palliative care physician, author of Dying Well and The Best Care Possible. www.TheBestCarePossible.org
My sister, who passed away 3 years ago, had a most glorious time being sung to in her last hours by two beautiful, harmonic, and melodic Threshold Singers. She even came out of a semi-coma and led a rousing version of "Love Potion Number Nine", to our astonishment. I truly believe the songs helped her to laugh and let go. Thank you, Robin and Maylin. Your graceful presence left a lasting joy in my heart, to see my beloved sister so blissed out on your sweet voices.
Terry’s Angels (a client's story)
[Terry's house caught on fire and he was burned badly trying to rescue his daughter. Terry was in the hospital for a long time, worked hard to heal his body and heart, and made a full recovery.]
I remember someone, a nurse, I think, coming into the room and announcing that I had a visitor. I pushed against the walls to crawl out of my morphine cave to hear what she was saying. My eyes struggled, only able to let in a crack of horizontal light, and then, exhausted, they fell shut again. Voices mumbled, words were spoken. I do not remember if I said anything or if I smiled or even moved, and then the voices turned to waves, waves to music.
My eyes pushed open again and made out three women standing at the foot of my bed singing. I did not recognize them as angels. I had never seen an angel before or known one to pay a visit to me. They sang. I do not remember if there were lyrics; I did not recognize any of the tunes. But I do remember that the music began to swirl and mix until it was blended with all things, and all things were music, and the music was sweet, and the sweet was nourishing and washed my body clean of pain and discomfort. And the swirl lifted my bed, counter-clockwise, I remember, as it slowly rose on notes of music, lifted by angels blowing air into the notes, lifting, lifting till I was swirling in heaven on my bed, light pouring in on all sides. I remember the smiles in heaven, on the faces of angels pouring forth their souls to nurture me. I whirled in heaven and all was pure, all was light and weightless, and time was dancing in the light.
I do not remember them leaving or how long they stayed in the room. I know they stayed forever, for they are with me now.
I want to acknowledge the powerful contribution that the singers in our local Threshold Choir made to our family in the early summer of 2011. When my sister Kate entered hospice care and was confined to her bed with cancer, I called a friend in Threshold Choir and asked if the choir would come and sing to her.
It was a beautiful and loving time. The singers came each Friday for six or seven weeks. Each week, different family members and friends would come to be with Kate and listen. We were connected by the beautiful harmony of the loving, soft, and gentle voices.
The Threshold Choir singing added dignity to one of life’s saddest events. Sometimes people do not want to hear that someone they love is dying. But the singers were active witnesses to what was happening. It gave me a chance to be on Kate’s journey for a short time and to bless her and let her travel alone.
I am still in a healing process following Kate’s death and continued to be healed by singing now with that same Threshold Choir.
From a Hospital Chaplain
The patients express to me their appreciation. One of the patients asked that I take back the CD player that I gave to him two or three years ago. He explained that he no longer needed it, as the Threshold Choir comes and sings to him each week. I do thank the Lord for your devoted and faithful attendance.
More Comments From Families
"Your voices were those of the angels my father had by his side as he left this life and went to the next. You helped him experience complete peace in his last moments . . ."
"Your gift of song touches the soul, bringing hope and joy . . . "
"I cannot express sufficiently how much your beautiful women's voices meant to my father. He did tell me that he loved it when you sang for him. So did I, the few times I was lucky enough to be there . . . Thank you again for the very important and healing work that you great women do."