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?
Pippa 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. 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.
Commissioned and published by Palliative Care Victoria, this book would not have been possible without their financial and in-kind support. Thank you also to all the people and palliative care services who kindly gave their time and energy to find people with the courage to tell their stories, and to give us all some insight into their lives.
Published by Palliative Care Victoria, 2014
Paperback, 88pp, RRP$30
Available from Palliative Care Victoria
Review by Emeritus Professor Ian Maddocks AM
Many publications in recent years have sought to assist discussions about death, but this surely ranks high among the best. Pippa Wischer, a skilled photographer, was so moved by close participation in her mother’s time of dying that she took upon herself a project of interviewing and photographing 40 persons journeying through terminal illness
Each has a full-page, close-up photograph, linked to brief biographies and paragraphs of reflection under the consistent headings of Life, Death and Dreams. Pippa’s way with words is as compelling as are her images, but most of the words she has chosen are from her amazing ‘sitters’.
None of the forty is afraid of death; they share regrets, but they face their reality with honesty and courage. Each one is different; each reveals self openly alongside a superb portrait, and there are little images of family life in the margin. These dying persons are you and me, totally recognizable, and able to encourage in each one of us a reflection on our own death.
Shall we, like these lovely persons, be able to remain ourselves, be confiding, philosophical and courageous in the face of death?
Place this volume in the doctor’s waiting room, in the hospital outpatients. Chain it to the wall like the Medieval Bibles, because it is quite beautiful and will be tempting to steal. And like the Bible its many contributors speak of serious matters like death and love:
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.