“This is the closest I’ll ever come to accepting and experiencing death until I die. It’s been a tremendous learning experience – I think that when I do get there one day, I’ll be more equipped.”

A quote from Tom Jennings, producer of the PBS Frontline documentary Being Mortal, based on Atul Gawande’s bestselling book.

The documentary, now available to stream on the PBS website, is a strikingly candid and often solemn account of the intimate conversations between patient, family and physician at the moment of a terminal diagnosis.

As the producer says, it is a tremendously rare glimpse into the raw emotion of that moment. They are real people facing one of life’s most challenging decisions: how do they want to live their final chapter.

It is a program that gets you thinking, and should get people talking. Yet as I watched the scenes of patients on hospice care in their homes, I was struck by the consistent portrayal of patients lying in their hospital beds.

Though this is certainly part of the hospice experience, I longed for more scenes of laughter and family interaction, which I also know are in an integral part of the hospice mission.

Having worked extensively on NHPCO’s “Moments of Life made by possible by Hospice” campaign, I recalled the family dinner video titled “Moments of Grace” that beautifully depicts the everyday peace of hospice. Yes, there is a hospital bed in the living room, but being on hospice is so much more than that.

I encourage you to watch Being Mortal and allow yourself to absorb what that moment of facing your mortality might feel like. But also be sure to visit MomentsOfLife.org to witness the difference caring hospice professionals can make. To feel the hope that so many families have shared with us through the years – hope to live the last months at home, pain-free, surrounded by loved ones.

Share