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Being Mortal: PBS debuts documentary on the end of life

Being Mortal: PBS debuts documentary on the end of life

Atul Gawande is a surgeon (at Brigham & Women’s Hospital), author (of four books), staff writer (at the New Yorker) and now is partnering with PBS on a new film, “Being Mortal,” about the end of life and based on his own book by the same title – it aired last night.
Frontline’s website includes documentary shorts and the opportunity for viewers and readers to engage in the conversation on social media (#whatmattersmost) about topics including how we respond to the knowledge we will die (“If you knew you were dying, what would you do with the time you had left?”) and how we discuss death with our doctors.
Mike Hale reviews the film in The New York Times:

There are no mysteries to solve or battles to win, just habits to overcome. Scene after scene is poignant and agonizing, and it’s the patients, finally, who are blunt about their situations.

Sarah Kliff, in a piece on, says the documentary offers “surprising solace.”
Other links:
An interview with Gawande on PRI.
Boston Globe story on Gawande’s book and perspectives on dying
Gawande’s 2010 New Yorker story, “Letting Go”

Posted by Cara Ellen Modisett


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Anne Fisher

Having facilitated an Alzheimer’s/Early dementia respite for a number of years, I have often wondered how we can change our expectation of death. We virtually ignore the possibility until it’s ringing our doorbell. Denial, which is an overused word these days, is nonetheless prevalent in the face of dying and may hasten the demise of both patient and caregiver. Our priests do indeed need our support and encouragement to broaden their pratical skills regarding long term illness and death, for they are the ones we trust the most to hold our fears and concerns until we hand them over to God.

Ann Fontaine

Every priest should watch this. How can we partner with people to make their end of life really living.

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