When musician and anthropologist Glenn McDonald’s mum passed away from suicide in 2011, music played an important part in his recovery.
His mum encouraged a love of music from an early age, and since her loss, Glenn has used music to help connect with her, through songs she used to play.
Music has also been something Glenn can turn to in challenging and tough times.
Connecting with Jesuit Social Services’ Support After Suicide program, which provides counselling, group sessions and other resources to people bereaved by suicide, also made a critical difference.
“During my bereavement, I was grateful for any small thing that made it easier. Through Support After Suicide, I met others who had also lost loved ones to suicide, and I found that music, often used in different ways, was a common thread during people’s bereavement,” said Glenn.
This led Glenn to delve further into music therapy. In bereavement, he said it’s a tool that can be used in mental health and wellbeing, particularly after a traumatic and life-changing event.
The combination of his love of music and his anthropological studies led Glenn to develop the Connecting Music and Emotions music workshop, which he facilitates with Support After Suicide.
In the workshop, participants learn about music history, how musicians use musical ‘tools’ to evoke different emotional responses and share the role that music has played during their own bereavement. Participants learn practical strategies like choosing when to engage certain types of music, creating playlists, and taking a more conscious and mindful approach to music.
One of the powerful motivators for Glenn in creating and facilitating this workshop is the ability to give back to the Support After Suicide program and, he said, “share my music knowledge that could potentially help others who have also lost loved ones to suicide”.
“I remember back to how I felt when I first made that phone call to Support After Suicide. I would be in a very different place today if it wasn’t for them.
“It’s an organisation I will be forever grateful for.”