The end of my life is not a topic of everyday discussion. Yet, these documentary filmmakers are showing that death with dignity in America would be dramatically changed if we would all talk about and share our end of life decisions now.
It's not every day that you meet two guys from Wisconsin that have become so passionate about changing the culture of end of life planning in America that they would disrupt their lives for two years to make it happen. This remarkable film project is the brainchild of Terry Kaldhusdal and Mike Bernhagen who are doing just that.
Consider the Conversation: a documentary film
"'Consider the Conversation: a documentary film on a taboo subject' examines multiple perspectives on end-of-life care and includes information and experiences gathered from interviews with dying patients, family members, doctors, nurses, clergy, social workers, and national experts on death and dying. To date, Mike and Terry have shot approximately 70 hours of film and conducted in-depth interviews with 40+ individuals from California, Illinois, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont and Wisconsin."
They've talked to 62 random folks on the streets of New York City and asked them to talk about "the end of my life".
They've got some of the superstars in end of life planning that are featured in the movie --
Ira Byock, M.D., Director of Palliative Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center
Elliott Fisher, M.D., head of the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care
Stephen Kiernan, author of Last Rights: Rescuing the End-of-Life from the Medical System
Bernard "Bud" Hammes, Ph.D., Clinical Ethicist, Gundersen Lutheran Health System
Susan Dolan and Audrey Vizzard, co-authors of The End-of-Life Advisor: Personal, Legal, and Medical Considerations for a Peaceful, Dignified Death
Doug Smith, author of It Takes a Village to Say Goodbye
James Cleary, M.D., Director of Palliative Medicine at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics
Thomas Cathcart and Daniel Klein, authors of Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates
Loretta S. Downs, President, Chicago End-of-Life Care Coalition
And they interviewed ME!!!
Rev. Dale Susan Edmonds, Hospice Chaplain and Community Educator with Family Centered Hospice, and Creator of Talk-Early-Talk-Often.com. (Watch clip at right...be patient.) I'm one of the clergy talking about the role of spirituality in the end of life conversations. But I digress. I am honored to be a part of this conversation -- but the real stars are all of you.
I want you to do these 5 things:
1. Check out their website,
and get to understand the scope and importance of what they are up to in changing the end of life conversations in America.
2. Consider donating to this grass roots project -- better yet, don't consider it --- just do it.
3. Make sure you tell your family, friends, colleagues to look out for your PBS television airing in 2011 and watch it. (Call your local station and find the date.)
4. A DVD is now available
Get your family, congregation, or organization to purchase it and host a viewing together. (Note: There are two versions, one a personal viewing license and another for educational/public viewing.)
5. Come back here and participate in the end of my life discussion below.
Thanks for supporting these guys and being a part of such an important movement.
We all have ideas about what we would like to have happen at the end of our lives....
Why is it so hard to talk about?
Who would you like to talk to? and
What would you like them to know about what YOU want at the end of your life?
Did you ever have an end of life conversation that surprised you?
Share your story below.
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Consider the Conversation
Watch for the film to air on the PBS Stations listed at ConsidertheConversation.org If yours is not listed -- call your local station and ask them to show it!
To date, Consider the Conversation has won eleven awards including:
"Consider the Conversation:
Wisconsin Premiere - a Rousing Success"
I got to attend the premiere on February 5th. What these filmmakers have created is amazing. The theater was packed -- and afterward -- a standing ovation. Here's one of the comments from an audience member that the filmmakers received. - Rev. Dale
"I went to see Mike Bernhagen and Terry Kaldhusdal's documentary CONSIDER THE CONVERSATION tonight, and I was blown away. I was expecting to see some healthcare professionals giving some useful tips about hospice care and death and dying. Instead I saw a profoundly moving and poignant look at facing death and how we can all help each other go out the way we would want to go out.
I was expecting to be seated in a classroom with 80 other people. Instead I arrived to a sold out show with an audience of nearly a thousand, many of whom I could hear quietly crying at the end of the movie. It is brilliant, thought provoking, and dare I say it, comforting. I stand in awe of what you two have done. Seriously, BRAVO!!!"