“If you thought you were dying, what would matter most?”
Lewis County Hospice is sponsoring two screenings of the 2015 PBS documentary film “Being Mortal,” which follows Dr. Atul Gawande, author of the 2014 book by the same name, as he explores that question and the balance between care, treatment and quality of life with a lens focused on what he calls the “two big unfixables — age and dying.”
The free screenings, to be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the River of Life Fellowship Church, 2140 Doran Road, Copenhagen, and at 2 p.m. Wednesday at the Christian Community Center, 6458 E. Main St., Turin, will be followed by a discussion.
Dr. Gawande, a surgeon, also critiques how and why many medical practitioners are unprepared to talk about death with chronically ill patients and their families as well as how and why it can and should be done differently.
In the documentary’s trailer, Dr. Gawande can be seen with his mother, sharing the personal experience that led to his wake-up call.
When his father was diagnosed with a large tumor in the neck that had invaded his brain, the approach taken by the oncologist, which Dr. Gawande says in the documentary was “very human,” gave false hope and was likely to do more harm than good.
The experience caused Dr. Gawande to take a deeper look at his own practices, palliative care and how to give his patients what they need to live out the end of their lives with the best quality and most dignity possible.
For Hospice licensed medical social worker Katherine Root, the film is an important tool to open up difficult conversations surrounding life and death and the transitions from one to the other faced by people approaching the end of their lives either due to age or illness.
“We’re talking about how important it is to make a plan before you’re in crisis, to think out what are your goals to help you consider what treatment you will follow,” Ms. Root said.