Kaldhusdal (left) and Michael Bernhagen
people hate talking about death, but the tide is changing. In
"Consider the Conversation: A Documentary on a Taboo
Subject," most people randomly interviewed on a Manhattan street
corner say they want to be at home surrounded by family and friends.
Yet the vast majority of us will pass away in the unfamiliar
surroundings of a hospital or nursing home.
Michael Bernhagen of Waukesha and fourth grade teacher Terry
Kaldhusdal of Oconomowoc began making the documentary after their own
life-changing experiences with dying relatives. The taboo nature of
the discussion was daunting. "My fear from the very beginning was
that we’d make a beautiful film about a very difficult subject and
nobody would see it," Kaldhusdal says. That hasn’t been the
case. "Consider the Conversation" has aired on 163 PBS
stations in 30 states with expert industry interviews and gripping
testimony from people who are struggling with their own fatal
has also inspired "Honoring Choices Wisconsin," a pilot
program The Wisconsin Medical Society launched last month in which
physicians at participating hospitals talk about end-of-life choices
with patients who face serious illness or are 55 or older.
end-of-life options get lost in our focus on medical advances that
keep us alive. "It’s like putting the cart before the
horse," he says. "We are appealing directly to the expert
medical culture in this country, to lead us to put the horse back in
front of the cart; that’s what we’re seeing in Wisconsin."
documentarians are working on a follow-up film. For more information,
go to www.considertheconverstation.org/adauc.