A powerful public television documentary will examine the process of dying from the perspective of patients. Titled Death Is But a Dream, the one-hour program features the work of Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo chief executive officer Dr. Christopher Kerr, MD, PhD and his research team, who have spent nearly a decade applying a scientific approach to better understand the dying experience which includes non-physical, inner processes such as end of life dreams and visions.
This documentary film, by J.J. Sicotte and Monica De La Torre, features compelling firsthand accounts from dying patients, who, at the end of life, often recall the best parts of having lived and mattered – through conversations or dreams. Their words do not deny the reality of death, but instead affirm life through stories of love and meaning. These testimonials connect to the research of Dr. Kerr’s team, whose work is informed by seven published studies and more than 1,400 unique conversations, many of which have been filmed.
The documentary marks the latest milestone in the research’s momentum. In February 2020, Dr. Kerr coauthored an internationally published book, also titled Death Is But a Dream. The team’s work also received a national spotlight through his guest lecture at the End Well “Take 10” conference (December 2020), and a feature in Episode 5 of Netflix’s docuseries, Surviving Death – which launched in January 2021. Dr. Kerr’s TEDxBuffalo talk on this subject has also received more than 3.2 million YouTube views to date.
A native of Southern Ontario, Dr. Kerr, alongside Dr. Pei Grant, leads the interdisciplinary research team at Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo in a wide range of research endeavors in an effort to improve the quality of care for seriously ill patients and their loved ones.
“We are honored that this research continues to receive widespread attention and amazed by the universality of its meaning to people from a wide range of countries and cultures around the world,” said Dr. Kerr. “The response suggests that people want to reclaim dying as a human experience, something more than medical failure. Through the Death Is But a Dream documentary, we hope that the words of the dying are heard and that they matter.”
Death Is But a Dream will air on WNED PBS on Monday, February 22 at 9 p.m. ET – serving Western New York, Rochester and Southern Ontario. The documentary is scheduled for national U.S. distribution in April 2021, with dates and times to be announced.
For more information about the documentary and the research, or how to connect and share a personal experience, visit drchristopherkerr.com.
About Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo
Hospice & Palliative Care Buffalo (HPCB) cares for individuals suffering from serious illness, as well as their families and caregivers. HPCB provides an integrative, holistic (physical, emotional, social, and spiritual) approach to care that focuses on the whole person, rather than on individual symptoms, to enhance quality-of-life. HPCB’s knowledgeable, compassionate staff helps patients make choices about their care, supports caregivers and loved ones, and embraces those who face overwhelming grief and loss. HPCB is a nonprofit organization serving over 1,000 patients and families in Erie County every day.