"Don't cry my son, because my life has been good.
I wish you well, my love, and I'd stay here if I could.
Don't let the days slip by, live your life till your last breath.
And when you time has come, you'll go with no regrets …
… and you'll have a beautiful death."
- "A Beautiful Death" by Tom Dalton
The guitar chords are calming, the harmonies are beautifully haunting, and the words to Tom Dalton's song, "A Beautiful Death" take listeners to the one place many people never go: to the bedside of a dying patient and the family members who are present for the final journey.
Tom, a VITAS music therapist for 10 years, wrote the song in 2013 based on his many experiences as a hospice music therapist. In November, shortly after he performed it at the 2019 American Music Therapy Association Conference, Tom learned that his song is featured on "Honoring the Passage," a compilation album of hospice songs.
"It's really quite an honor," says Tom, who has released at least 10 CDs throughout his musical career. "A Beautiful Death," he explains, was inspired by a particularly powerful experience with a dying patient and family.
Hospice experiences = a song
"It reminded me of all of the different experiences I'd encountered as a hospice music therapist, and I remember saying to myself, 'I'm going to finally put down in words this song that's been on my mind for quite some time now.'"
His VITAS colleagues can listen to the song on YouTube, find it on Apple Music or purchase it at CDBaby.com. With Tom on lead vocals, harmonies and acoustic guitars, the song also features Natalie Spencer (vocals, harmonies), Paul Feurer (electric guitar), Rick Rossano (bass) and Bill Supino (drums and percussion). It originally was recorded in 2014 at MT Space Studios in Lake Worth, Florida.
"A Beautiful Death" imparts a sense of joy and spirituality through the painful loss of a loved one, highlighting how communications from a loved one who is imminently dying can carry powerful, life-affirming messages for family members and those present.
For Tom, an entire album of hospice songs "promotes our work and helps people understand what we do. We can talk all day about music therapy, and sometimes people don't get it. But a single song or video has the power to bring home the message of hospice music therapy in a very tangible way, and that's what I hope this song will do."
Congratulations, Tom, for making such a personal and meaningful difference in their lives of our patients, their families and music lovers everywhere.