This past Monday, May 20th, I attended the second showing in the Behavioral Sciences Film Series, Consider the Conversation, a documentary about end of life plans and care. This film specifically was being offered to the students because of their expressed interest in the Death and Dying classes offered here at Western Oregon University by Dr. Tamina Toray.
Extra credit opportunities were being offered to many of the attending students, most of them psychology majors and some associated fields. I also noticed that a surprising number of attendants were members of faculty. This subject is obviously one that interests people beyond a few extra credit points, as many such event sometimes turn out to be, which I found heartening.
After the film, special guest speaker Dr. Morasco, answered questions about subjects and questions raised during the film. Students and other attendees asked questions ranging from what palliative care actually is to how one might rise the question of end of life plans and wishes with loved ones.
The film itself was comprised of interviews with health care professionals, including doctors, psychologists, and a few journalists. Many of the individuals interviewed gave first-hand accounts of their own experiences caring for elderly and dying relatives and a few even offered stories of their own personal struggles. One of the most prevalent themes in the film reflected back on the title. That in our society end of life care and decisions are somehow viewed as being taboo subjects. This makes the issues of death and dying seem more frightening and difficult than they really are, creating a system of avoidance and fear in people. People avoiding these subjects only creates situations where ones loved ones suffer needlessly, when really all it would take is a simple conversation to put a plan in place so that a persons wishes can be followed, and then can live in as comfortable a manner as possible.
By Bonnie Wells