Being Mortal: Last days need not be lost days

by Erica Greenspan
Social Worker, Montgomery Station

Riderwood’s Social Work Department will host a viewing of Being Mortal a documentary based on a book of the same name by Dr. Atul Gawande

There are few relationships more intimate than that of patient and doctor. We hold our trust in these highly skilled professionals, look to them for truth and guidance in our most vulnerable state, yet both patient and doctor shy away from addressing one very uncomfortable topic- the dying process.

What makes this topic so difficult to discuss? And what are the repercussions of delaying, or avoiding altogether, this critical subject as we approach the end of life? The PBS FRONTLINE documentary Being Mortal, based upon

’s best-selling book of the same name, explores the relationship between physician and patient, quality of life and terminal illness. Being Mortal investigates the practice of caring for the dying, and shows how doctors are often remarkably untrained, ill-suited and uncomfortable talking about chronic illness and death with their patients.”

The film focuses on this sort of tug of war between physicians who are trained to “fix” medical problems, and the reality that treating such fatal ailments may, in fact, shorten life and inflict suffering along the way. Being Mortal has shined a light on the way in which our society approaches end of life care. It highlights the significance of pausing to have an honest conversation about what we want our final chapter to look like.

The documentary follows the real life stories of physicians and patients who have agreed to share their intimate experiences with terminal illness. Staff members, residents, and families are encouraged to attend a viewing and discussion of the documentary Being Mortal in the Encore Theater on Thursday, May 11 at 7:00 p.m. This event is part of the Social Work Lecture Series and is sponsored by JSSA. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and light refreshments will be served.


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