Bring some joyful 'noise' to your house

  • The author's cats love listening to music while sitting on a TV.

    The author's cats love listening to music while sitting on a TV.

Posted8/1/2020 6:00 AM

I have heard people say that after a death in the family, and particularly the death of a dear spouse, child or other close family member, that it is "too quiet" in the house.

This feeling may be a combination of things. It may be being alone, or more alone. Maybe you are not doing as much cooking or have as many errands to do. You may be just sad and inactive.


I understand some people prefer silence or quiet. I personally like some "noise" or movement in the house.

My own coping mechanisms are:

1) Having music playing. This is easy now with dozens of music channels on cable TV and Pandora music on the iPhone and iPad. So I constantly have music playing in the house.

2) The sound of my kitties padding about, which is a nice presence in the house. It's not exactly "noise" but I hear them. And they look sweet curled up while napping. It could be a sweet doggy, if you are more a dog person. Pets add activity and "noise" in the house.

So I don't mean bad noise, but soothing and entertaining sounds to break up the silence.

3) Some people leave their TVs on -- not always to watch but to hear sound in the background. They'll occasionally look at shows of interest or watch the news. PBS and history channels have wonderful historical and cultural documentaries. And there are lots of travel shows that are very entertaining. So TV "noise" works, too.

I recommend music -- it really helps me anyway. I love all kinds of music. Music is cheering and can invoke many nice memories. It also breaks and/or prevents "the silence."

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Even my kitties, Sheba and Coffee Cat, love music. They listen to country western music on the kitchen TV and Channel 734 all day. I keep an old box-TV in the kitchen so they can sit on top of it. They like the warmth of the TV and the backbeat of the country music, and have been doing this since they were three months old. I don't have the heart to replace it with a flat screen TV where they won't be able to sit on top and take naps, serenaded by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard.

Right now I'm on the front porch and I have other kinds of noise. Listening to the birds chirping is so pleasant. And lawn mowing. I'm happy to hear it. It was so wet for a while that the yard crew could not mow! So it's welcome noise.

These days, we also need to make the most of entertainment options on TV. I now have Netflix and Amazon Prime "streaming" on TV so I can see a broader range of movies and old classic TV shows. Some of the old ones are the best! I'm a big "Perry Mason" fan, especially the last 20 minutes of the show when he unravels the mystery and catches the real perpetrator. It ran on TV for about 10 years from 1957 to 1967. I enjoy these reruns.

Actually, it is a good time to upgrade your home TV and other communications. We are at home so much and we need to rely more on ourselves to stay up-to-date and find enjoyment.


One really needs a computer, an iPad or other notebook, and a smartphone. Email and texting are a must. You need Wi-Fi in your home so you can easily connect with the outside world. This provides more options for music and movies. Technical help is available, or if you have children or grandchildren at home or in the area, they know how to do it for you. I found a wonderful technologist on the recommendation of a friend, and all turned out great. This takes a little getting used to -- with the changes in remote controls and new buttons to push, but it's not difficult.

The point is: Unless you are bothered by "noise," I recommend music and more TV entertainment options to liven up the house. For the bereaved, these distractions, mixed with outside porch sitting, and patio or garden activity, will cheer up the home front.

• Susan Anderson-Khleif of Sleepy Hollow has a doctorate in family sociology from Harvard, taught at Wellesley College and is a retired Motorola executive. Contact her at or see her blog See previous columns at

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