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Podcast Episode 140: Hemlock Society And Right To Die Films

Films use serious drama as well as absurd humor to help us face questions about death and dying

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Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

Ruth Gordon stars as a woman who decides to end her life at 80 in the black comedy "Harold and Maude."

Episode 140: Hemlock Society And Right To Die FIlms

Nobody likes to talk about death much less think about how their own life might end but films can help us confront our fears and educate us about exiting this world. Faye Girsh, president and founder of the San Diego Hemlock Society, talks about right to die films and what we can learn from them

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Death. No one likes to talk about it, and no one likes to think about how he or she might actually exit this world. But the Hemlock Society of San Diego has some film suggestions that might change your mind.

For this podcast, I speak with Faye Girsh, president and founder of the Hemlock Society of San Diego, about death and dying — specifically about the right to die and dying with dignity.

I know that might sound bleak, but it’s not.

Death is something we all have to face and deal with whether we want to or not. And films can help us face death in all its various incarnations whether it is dealing with a loved one at the end of his or her life, facing a debilitating illness, or coping with grief or loss. Films can seriously address these issues through drama and documentary or use humor and absurdity to allow us to step back and laugh at something that scares us.

The films highlighted illuminate in some way issues about one's right to die or to die with dignity.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Sony Pictures Classics

Jean-Louis Trintignant plays a man who has to cope with his wife's deteriorating health in "Amour."

The films discussed can be found streaming or on DVD and Blu-ray disc, but the Hemlock Society of San Diego does run an ongoing film festival that showcases one film every other month. On April 15 it will screen "The Event," starring Olympia Dukakis as the mother of a young man with AIDS. Made in 2003, the film looks to the early years in the AIDS crisis when some people with AIDS chose to end their lives rather than live with the torturous symptoms. The film screens at the Rancho Bernardo Library. Admission is free.

On April 28, you can hear a discussion about what you would need to ward off the 10 major causes of death and what the California law allows for medical aid in dying. Girsh will moderate the discussion with Mitsuo Tomita, M.D., retired family practice doctor.

You can also find information on California's End of Life Option Law and a list of links for end of life resources on the Hemlock Society website.


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Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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