LIFE Before Death #47: A Time to Live

2012 April 20
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Short Film 47 of 50 in the LIFE Before Death documentary series about the global crisis in untreated pain and the dramatic life changing affect palliative care services can deliver to patients and their families around the world.

In “A Time to Live” we discover that the end of life experience can be filled with hope, love and joy.

“Many people learn to live, when they’re going to die,” reflects Dr David Morrison (Canada).

“It’s tragic when people opt for euthanasia, or physician-assisted dying, only because pain relief is not available when we have the knowledge and ability to provide pain relief, but it’s simply because of resource allocation or regulations about the controls of narcotics making it not available to them,” observes Professor Peter Singer (Australia).

“Very many people really want to live when they know they’re going to die, and some of them really begin to live,” continues Dr Morrison. “And in the palliative stages it’s just a wonder to behold. To see a person knowing they’re going to die, accepting it, and the relief for the family to have a person closer, more human almost, than they ever have been.”

“When a patient is screaming in pain, the family and the patient can’t talk to you about anything else,” explains Dr Anne Merriman. “They can’t plan, they can’t think of the future — nothing. Once you’ve got the pain controlled, then we can start working with them, with what they want, how they’re most comfortable and try to keep them on their feet until the day they die so they feel that they’re contributing.”

“But if they’re in severe pain, for many people it’s the over-riding priority, and you have patients towards the end of life who are basically begging to die because of the pain they’re in,” laments Professor Singer.

“As I contrast the celebratory qualities of the beginning of life and the end of life, the celebration at the end of life has a much more mature quality because there’s a life lived,” observes Dr Charles Von Gunten (USA). “At the beginning of life it’s all potential, you don’t really know how it’s going to turn out,and so it’s an immature, child-like hopefulness. Contrast, at the end of life, where there is a life lived — values, personality, achievements, struggles are all present. And if one is well cared for you can look back across the entire spectrum with a sense of quietness, of pleasure, of having accomplished something in the world, making a difference in the world.”

“Nothing in my life has given more joy than seeing someone who’s been in pain for so long, being relieved and coming to terms with their families and their God before they die,” concludes Dr Merriman.

Featuring: Dr David Morrison (Canada), Professor Peter Singer (Australia), Dr Anne Merriman (Ireland), Dr Charles Von Gunten (USA).

If you’ve missed previous episodes, catch up on the LIFE Before Death website…

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The LIFE Before Death feature film was premiered on 1 February 2012 in Singapore.

Why not organise a screening in your community? GET MORE INFORMATION HERE…

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