Review: Searching for Meaning – exploring palliative and end of life care

For our November meeting, we were joined by members of the Central London Humanist Group to watch the documentary Searching for Meaning, followed by a discussion with the film’s director Jean-Francois Rodrigues and Simon O’DonoghueHead of Pastoral Support at Humanists UK

Jean-Francois Rodrigues has created a moving and thoughtful exploration of dying and the difference good palliative and end of life care can make, both for the person who is dying and their family and friends.

It’s lovely to see the pictures of his mother at the end of the film, which bring into relief the personal experience behind it, the anguish when she died without that holistic care.

That is what started Jean-Francois on his journey to learn about the hospice movement, humanist pastoral care and other approaches and services which are helping to ensure that dying is more than just a medical event.

We were lucky to have the director himself, along with Simon O’Donoghue, Head of Pastoral Support at Humanists UK, who features in the film, with us to discuss some of the issues afterwards. The film makes a powerful argument for greater public funding of palliative and end of life care, and much of the discussion was around people’s differing experience within the NHS, ranging from excellent to poor. More money for public services, working alongside charitable hospices, was proposed as a way forward.

Simon talked about the growing service that Humanists UK-trained volunteers provide in hospitals and prisons, including pastoral support for people who are dying. Thank you to Central London Humanists for hosting this event with us and adding to our numbers!

You can see the film Searching for Meaning: exploring palliative and end of life care here and read more about it here.

Click here to find out more about Humanists UK’s Pastoral Support programme.

Review by Hester Brown