Music & Memories

Hospice volunteer shares the power of song

Brenda Harwood

Brenda Harwood was introduced to Hospice when two of her relatives passed away at St. Joseph’s Hospice of Sarnia. “We liked the place and the care our loved ones received. Before that, I hadn’t really heard of Hospice.”

When Brenda discovered St. Joseph’s Hospice of London right in her backyard, she immediately wanted to be part of the organization. She started playing the piano at Hospice three years ago. When not playing the piano, she is greeting visitors as a volunteer at our reception desk.

Brenda took piano lessons as a child, but also discovered she has a dazzling ability to play by ear. “If residents request a song that I haven’t heard, they can hum it, and I can figure out how to replicate the tune.” One patient’s family members requested songs Brenda hadn’t heard before. “Over the next few days, I practiced them. I came back to play the music, and the family was thrilled. They were so grateful that I’d done that for them.” Another time, Brenda played for a patient who was close to passing away around Christmastime. “His two sons asked if I could play Christmas carols in his suite. They all started singing. It was a beautiful moment.”

You don’t imagine Hospice to be the place for a sing-along, but beautiful moments like that happen all the time.

Brenda gets many requests for songs. Two songs people most often ask for are Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” and Frank Sinatra’s “My Way.” Of course, some people ask for more modern tunes, such as “Shallow” from “A Star is Born.” Brenda also has a list of songs she knows from which patients can choose.

Brenda shared her feelings of gratitude, “it was such a relief for our family when my mother-in-law and uncle passed away in Hospice. We were able to stop being caregivers and just be family again. Hospice is such a valuable resource. I feel so blessed that I can be part of it in any way. It’s such a gift.”


Why We Hike for Hospice

Every year, we come together as a community to honour and remember our loved ones, and raise much-needed funds for Hospice – so we can continue offering the compassionate end-of-life care like we were able to provide to Darlene and her family. Your participation – by hiking yourself, as a team, or simply donating to someone – allows us to continue doing this. Learn more and SIGN UP TODAY by clicking the image below:

2020 Virtual Hike for Hospice