Documentary explores putting meaning into life

In recognition of Older Americans Month in May, Pierce County’s Aging and Disability Resources and the Pierce County Library System will host a series of free film screenings of the PBS Frontline documentary ‘Being Mortal.’ A guided discussion will follow each showing.

‘Being Mortal’ is based on the book of the same name by Dr. Atul Gawande to educate and encourage people to talk openly about end-of-life decisions. The film follows Gawande as he shares stories from patients at the end of life, their families and doctors. When Dr. Gawande’s own father is diagnosed with cancer, his search for answers about how best to care for the dying becomes a personal quest.

Aired nationally on the PBS program Frontline in February 2015, ’Being Mortal’ delves into the hopes of patients and families facing terminal illness and investigates the practice of caring for the dying through the exploration of patient-doctor relationships.

After each screening audience members are invited to participate in a guided conversation lead by professional staff from Franciscan Hospice. The discussion may range from the role of physicians, medicine and long term care facilities to personal considerations about giving meaning to life in one’s final days. Audience members will also be invited to raise their own thoughts, experiences and concerns.

Six screenings are scheduled:

May 6 – 1 p.m. at the Summit Branch Library, 5107 112th St. E. in Tacoma

May 10 – 7 p.m. University Place Branch Library, 3609 Market Place W., Suite 100 in University Place

May 13 – 2 p.m. at the South Hill Branch Library, 15420 Meridian E. in South Hill

May 15 – 4:30 p.m. at the Lakewood Branch Library, 6300 Wildaire Road SW in Lakewood

May 18 – 10 a.m. at the Key Center Branch Library, 8905 Key Peninsula Highway N. in Lakebay

May 22 – 7 p.m. at the Gig Harbor Branch Library, 4424 Point Fosdick Dr. NW in Gig Harbor

“A major concern for all of us is the meaning of our life” said Aaron Van Valkenburg, Pierce County Aging and Long Term Care manager. “Talking about what matters most to patients and families facing difficult treatment decisions before a medical crisis is so very important. We hope this documentary may be a beginning for many individuals and families.”

Each documentary showing is free and open to the public. No RSVP is required. For more information about the presentations, call the Pierce County Aging and Disability Resource Center at (253) 798-4600 or (800) 562-0332.

     – Pierce County Aging & Disability Resource Center

Photo by Morf Morford
Photo by Morf Morford

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