A new documentary film will shed light on the American perspective of end-of-life care, a natural life event that many patients and health care providers avoid discussing.

The film, Consider the Conversation: A Documentary on a Taboo Subject, includes information and experiences about death and dying gathered from interviews with patients, family members, doctors, nurses, clergy, social workers, and national experts. Intimate accounts of the emotional, spiritual, physical, and financial burdens associated with the historical shift in dying are discussed throughout the documentary. In particular, the film focuses on the change over the last 40 years from the quick death most people experienced to the more drawn out, incremental dying process that is more common today.

Opinions are shared by leading experts such as Ira Byock, MD, director of palliative medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center; Elliott Fisher, MD, head of the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care; and Stephen Kiernan, author of Last Rights: Rescuing the End-of-Life from the Medical System.

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Producers Mike Bernhagen and close friend Terry Kaldhusdal hope the conversations their documentary sparks will take the end-of-life discussion in the United States to a new level. Both Bernhagen—a former health care business development professional aiming to become an independent insurance agent—and Kaldhusdal—a fourth grade teacher and documentary filmmaker—were personally touched by a family member’s death or cancer diagnosis. Inspired by the conversations they began to have about death and dying, the pair decided to team up to intensify the conversation much of the country was not having about end-of-life topics.

The documentary is scheduled to be complete in early 2011. More information about the film is available online at www.considertheconversation.org.