“There’s nothing inherently medical in dying. It’s much larger than medicine. It’s purely human.”
Death is not something we want to talk about but it’s something we have to talk about. Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman’s documentary End Game explores this final phase of life through the stories of 5 terminally ill patients living through it: Mitra, Pat, Kym, Thekla and Bruce. Filmed at the Zen Hospice Guest House in San Francisco, End Game primarily focuses on Mitra an Iranian woman dying of a terminal illness. We see her family, notably her husband and mother, struggle with the decision to fight to keep her or to let her go. As Mitra condition worsens, the window of time they have to make that decision gets shorter and their options are fewer. Through the other stories we see how different individuals make those final choices of how they will live until they die.
In 2015, my father passed away in hospice after a long decline. His death was brought on by a sudden condition that left him in much pain. I know what it’s like to have those long difficult conversations about how your loved one should die, how you should honor their wishes and how to give them the most comfort in their final days.
End Game is painful to watch and maybe you’ll think you can’t get through all 40 minutes of it. But you can and you will and you’ll be better for it. It tackles a difficult subject in a sympathetic and respectful way.
End Game is nominated for a 2019 Academy Award for Best Documentary (Short Subject). It’s available to watch on Netflix.