Call the Midwife finale shows how good end of life care can help families make peace

Lady Browne being cared for by her daughter Chummy
Lady Browne being cared for by her daughter Chummy

On Sunday night the season finale of Call the Midwife sensitively tackled the subject of end of life care in a moving storyline concerning Miranda Hart’s much loved character Chummy and her mother Lady Browne.

Writer and Executive Producer Heidi Thomas said the subject brought up a lot of emotion on set. “Chummy and her mother have struggled to communicate for almost 40 years, and their relationship is both tested and resolved in its final fortnight,” she said. "They have the chance to confront the things they have never said, and say them, and mourn the things they have never done, and do them. It is not an easy process, but the end, when it comes, is worth all the heartache.

"Lady Browne is a fictional character, but we wept on set during filming – I think there was a sense that we were each of us quietly grieving for someone we had known and lost. Death touches us all, just as birth does. I am so glad we went on this journey with Chummy and her family and am deeply grateful to organisations such as Marie Curie, who do so much to support and guide people through this defining chapter of their lives."

Miranda Hart as Chummy in Call the Midwife
Miranda Hart as Chummy in Call the Midwife

Miranda Hart, who plays Chummy, agreed that emotions ran high during these moving scenes. “Chummy goes through so much. Heidi [Thomas] puts you through all the levels of emotion. There is so much going on. Lady Browne is going to die and Chummy needs to make her peace and hear her say ‘I love you’ before she goes. It’s hard hitting and I found it quite draining to imagine the situation of being desperate to hear your mother saying she accepts you and loves you.”

Marie Curie Nurse Irene shares her experiences

Like Chummy, Marie Curie Nurse Irene has her own experience of connecting with a loved one in their final days. Nineteen years ago, Irene cared for her father after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer with bone metastases. He was diagnosed less than a year before he died.

“It was lovely that we could all be together to look after him,” she said. “My sisters and I did the hands-on care while the other siblings and grandchildren would drop in for a chat, and maybe even read him some poetry.

“It was a privilege to nurse him at the end of his life. He was not a cuddly parent growing up and very much took on the role of the provider, so it as new to see his vulnerable side. I had the chance to really get to know him before he passed away.

Irene has also helped others find peace with family members at the end of life. In the video below she talks about nursing her best friend and helping her reconcile with her mother in her final moments.

What Marie Curie Nurses do

Marie Curie Nurses like Ann provide terminally ill people and their families with free hands-on care and emotional support, in their own homes, right until the end. Visit our website to read more about what our nurses do and to find out how to get a Marie Curie Nurse.

If you’ve been inspired by Call the Midwife and issues around good end of life care, or if you’d like to share your story, please add your thoughts in the comments below.