“Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

-Dylan Thomas, Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

The Dylan Thomas poem from which the above lines are taken fairly accurately expresses the American view of death. Even after a long and satisfying life we tend to think of death as something to be fought against with all of the tools at our disposal. We struggle to keep parents, grandparents, or patients alive for just one more week, one more day.

But the new film Consider the Conversation suggests that a natural death after a long life may not be a single event to struggle against, but rather a process to be faced with as much grace and comfort as possible. Created by Mike Bernhagen, a business development specialist turned hospice advocate after watching the slow physical and cognitive decline of his elderly mother; and Terry Kaldhusdal, a teacher and filmmaker; the documentary is a labor of love.

Consider the Conversation does not seek to hand down answers. Rather, it provides something far more important – the questions all of us need to contemplate. That being said, the producers have three goals for this film: 1) to change the current American attitude from one that predominantly views end-of-life as a failed medical event to one that sees it as a normal process rich in opportunity for human development, 2) to inspire dialogue between patient and doctor, husband and wife, parent and child, minister and parishioner, and 3) to encourage medical professionals, healthcare organizations and clergy to take the lead in counseling others.”

The film brings up issues that every adult child should be talking about with their elderly parent, and that every elderly patient should be having with their doctor. These are also issues that you should be discussing with your estate planner as you create your Living Will or Advance Healthcare Directive.

The film Consider the Conversation is being shown on public television stations around the country. Check the website for an updated screening schedule, or to purchase the DVD.