The answer to her silent prayer was unambiguous. “Sing!”

Kim was headed to be with her ailing mother who had just been placed in hospice care following a devastating stroke. In the days ahead, Kim would be making life and death decisions regarding her mother’s care. On that morning, knowing she needed help figuring out how to navigate through the journey ahead, Kim lifted a pressing request to a higher power: “Tell me how to do this.”


At her mother’s bedside, one song came to mind. Over the next two weeks, Kim sang “Oceans” (by Hillsong United) as she sat with her mother, repeating it thirty to forty times each day. “Singing allowed me to be with her, showing up at my best. I know she loved to hear me sing, so that’s what I did. I just kept singing.”


For Kim, the lyrics to “Oceans” spoke to the troubled waters she would be forced to navigate:

In oceans deep

            My faith will stand

            When oceans rise

            My soul will rest in Your embrace

            So I will call upon Your name

            And keep my eyes above the waves

            When oceans rise


Singing “Oceans” hundreds of times was not only a gift to her mother. Sharing the song allowed Kim to discover that love expressed through the gift of a song possesses the power to heal both giver and receiver. “I thought I was singing it for her because I wanted whatever time she had remaining to be peaceful. But I realize now that I was also singing it for me because it enabled me to be in my emotion but not be in distress in my emotion.”

Make Friends With A Song

“Oceans” has stayed with Kim, now long after her mother is gone. It continues to be there for her, to help her face whatever life has in store for her. “The song speaks to my journey, my desire to keep walking forward, to do and be what I’ve never done and been before. When I get challenged, I go to that song.”

Kim makes friends with songs and “Oceans” is just her latest companion. “I sing it a lot,” she says in something that strikes me as an understatement. Like a faithful friend, the song is there for her when she needs help, never judging, always supporting, providing the strength and encouragement she needs to keep her “eyes above the waves.”

We all should make friends with songs, because they never let us down. Songs help connect us with our emotions by articulating what words alone are unable to express. I would like to think that songs, in some mysterious way, take on a life of their own and enjoy our friendship in return.

Kim has given me a new way to think about “musical hugs.” She embraced the immense emotional power of a single song… and it hugged her back.