Documentary probes end-of-life decisions

Nov 19, 2013
Terry Kaldhusdal, far right, and Michael Bernhagen converse with interviewees while filming “Consider the Conversation.”

Camden — First Congregational Church of Camden, 55 Elm St./Route 1, will host a free showing of “Consider the Conversation: A Documentary on a Taboo Subject” Monday, Dec. 2, at 6:30 p.m. in the church’s fellowship hall. Dr. Ira Mandel, Director of Hospice Care at PenBay Medical Center; and Sarah Dwelley, RN, Palliative Care Nurse at PBMC, will answer questions following the screening.

This hour-long film, which addresses end-of-life issues head on, is relevant to all age groups whether people are considering how they would like to live their final days here on earth or looking to honor the wishes and needs of parents or loved ones as they face end-of-life decisions. Producers Michael Bernhagen and Terry Kaldhusdal have said their aim was to provide a 360-degree perspective on what it means to die in 21st-century America, adding, “What we learned is that most people find it extremely difficult to communicate about and prepare for the end of life.”

The film was released to PBS stations throughout the country in June 2011 and has created intense interest nationwide. “Consider the Conversation” has won 11 awards including use of film for social change, journalistic excellence and viewer impact; and has been shown on 165 PBS stations in 31 states.

Bernhagen and Kaldhusdal have said their goals are simple, but far from easy. First, they hope to change the commonly held American attitude that views end-of-life as a failed medical event to one that sees it as a normal process rich in opportunity for human development. Second, they hope to inspire dialogue between patient and doctor, husband and wife, parent and child, minister and parishioner. And third, they hope to change behavior by encouraging medical professionals, healthcare organizations and clergy to take the lead in counseling others.

Mandel and Dwelley view “Consider the Conversation” as an opportunity for education on end-of-life issues and a way to initiate dialogue in the community about a topic that is often considered taboo and, many times, left unaddressed.

The Congregational Church is handicapped accessible from the main parking lot. For more information, call 236-4821.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or

Watch the trailer
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