The Dreamers

What do people think about life, when they are living with the prospect of dying soon? What gives them joy? Have they had dreams or visions about death or the hereafter? How do they feel about dying?

I asked forty people receiving palliative care questions about life, dreams and dying. Photographing them while they answered these intimate and complex questions, this series reveals the wisdom and belief systems of those living with life-limiting illness. Part digital storytelling and part memento mori, the photographs, text and sound provide poignant and profound insights into the lives of those receiving palliative care, conveying what really matters to them at the end of their lives.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that the following material may contain images and words of deceased people.

Over 100,000 people have attended the various exhibitions, and over 3,000 copies of the book have been sold.

Sponsored by Palliative Care Victoria

2018, Eastbank, Shepparton
2017, Alexandra Hospital, Alexandra
2017, Seymour Library, Seymour
2017, Kilmore Library, Kilmore2016, The Dreamers, Queen’s Hall, Parliament House, Melbourne
2016, The Dreamers, Shepparton Library, Shepparton
2016, The Dreamers, Fitzroy Library, Melbourne
2015, The Dreamers projection, Metanoia Theatre, Melbourne
2015, The Dreamers, Ballarat International Foto Biennale
2015, The Dreamers, Melbourne City Library, Melbourne
2015, The Dreamers, Latrobe Regional Gallery, Morwell

The Dreamers, by Pippa Wischer, Palliative Care Victoria, 2014
Review by Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks AM
Book available from Palliative Care Victoria.
National Library of Australia listing

Parliament of Victoria – Hansard
17/08/16 Mentioned by Mr Ben Carroll MP and Ms Sonya Kilkenny MP
The Dreamers Hansard 17Aug16.pdf [0.13 MB]

Edward Cherie Brian John Kveta Lucette Tania



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Bernard Ring and Jill Hennessy MP

“We went to see The Dreamers at the City Library. We both loved it – seeing the different perspectives and philosophies people had – religious, humanist, acceptance, sadness, guilt, hope of being reunited with loved ones…it really stayed with me long after we left.”

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I want to die in country. That’s my wish. I dream of being with my mum and my husband. I can feel my husband’s presence around the house all the time and I dream that I’ll be at peace.

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I had a wake here by myself one day, that’s how bad I got. You don’t like to tell people what you are; you got this or that cancer and think you’re going to die. I take in more than I did before, trying to get a bit more out of life.

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I now believe that the lights just go out and that’s it. It was very peaceful; just flick the switch. I don’t think I’m going to be catching up with people.

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Dreams, oh, I have whole movies! I never before was seeing dead people. That’s why I think, maybe if I die, if there is another life, I will meet them.

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I’m French; I love my cheese. When I was in hospital I told them ‘No way I’m going to die before I have a lasagna!’ For me that’s important, being able to live your death.

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I was just floating around like Peter Pan. You couldn’t compare it to anything that’s on this side. The physical body is the one that feels the pain; the spiritual body’s not solid so you can’t hurt it.

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I’m trying to find a bit of normality in my life. Unfortunately, it’s jumped the fence, and now I have to mourn the joy of being normal, of not being cancer.

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I found myself saying, ‘I wonder if I’ll actually be alive next Wednesday?’ You suddenly realize that life doesn’t have to be that serious. But I give myself what I call little moments of terror…

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“I love this book for its demonstrations of patience, courage and love. For those of us who have still to face the final passage, it is both transforming and reassuring.”
Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks AM

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