Palliative care is a complex form of health care at once embodying practices that may be considered medical, such as pain and symptom relief, as well as social in nature, such as psychological and spiritual care, and attention to suffering. Palliative care is intimately embedded in the communities it serves. It must reflect the communities'' values and be responsive to their concerns. Any examination of the practices of palliative care must encompass approaches that extend beyond the borders of biomedicine to adequately address the complexities and many aspects of this form of care. Reflecting the heterogeneity of palliative care, this exploration uses heterogeneous methodologies including ideas from the fields of philosophy, sociology, thanatology, psychoanalysis and semiotics, as well as empirical data from qualitative and quantitative studies. In this way, some of the many aspects of palliative care are revealed.