How do I want to die? Where do I want to spend my last days? And with whom? These are some of the questions thoughtfully posed by the award winning documentary, “Consider the Conversation.”
This 2011 production is a rare find. Consisting of interviews with hospice workers, doctors, an ALS patient, and numerous others, it raises profound questions about how we both hope and plan to spend our final days.
In an accompanying study guide (www.considertheconversation.org) the producers state that their goals include changing the commonly held American view that end-of-life is a failed medical event rather than a normal process rich in opportunity for human development.
Second, they seek to inspire dialogue between patient and doctor, husband and wife, parent and child, minister and parishioner.
Third, they want to encourage medical professionals, healthcare workers, and clergy to take the lead in counseling others about end of life issues.
The documentary does not offer answers. Instead, it provides questions all of us need to contemplate and answer for ourselves. The film elegantly aligns these questions with the concept of advance care planning which is all about talking with patients and loved ones about their end-of-life wishes, documenting them, and taking action to ensure they’re honored.
Other questions the film asks are: At what point is the quality of life no longer worth the emotional and physical costs of maintaining it? When is it OK to acknowledge that one has fought the good fight and it’s now OK to accept moving to the next phase? Have we had a tough conversation with our doctor about end of life planning? Will our doctor be honest and courageous enough to tell us when there is no more she can do and not consider that a medical failure but a fact of life? When is enough, enough?
Every so often we find a resource that challenges us to engage in a Tough Conversation. So it was with Five Wishes which provides a caring and intelligent approach to creating a Living Will. How to Say it to Seniors by David Solie is another gem that guides our thinking about what it means to be an elder and how to communicate effectively with elders. And so it is with Consider the Conversation, a thought provoking journey into what too many of us consider taboo territory.
For PBS listing or to purchase the film see www.considertheconversation.org.