It used to be that most people died at home, away from the commotion of the hospital and of last-ditch medical procedures. Most of us would prefer it that way, to die at home among loved ones, in a setting peaceful enough to allow final conversations. The last words a dying person says are often held close by loved ones, a cherished final bit of communication, whether or not the words make sense. Sometimes the words do make sense, as when Oscar Wilde made his final joke: “Either that wallpaper goes, or I do.” Sometimes advice is offered, as in the beguiling last words of Alduous Huxley: “Think in other categories.” Journalist Elizabeth Weil, in her short piece in the New York Times about the death of Scharlette Holdman, tells a story of last words: “Shortly before Holdman died, her house filled up with friends. At one point, all the women left, and six or seven men stood around as Holdman lay unconscious in her bed. She snapped to for a moment and blurted out, ‘All right, boys, let’s get cracking!’” This electrifying command displayed Holdman’s vital energy, even while dying. The setting was conducive to the moment: she was at home, surrounded by loved ones. Peaceful circumstances for final conversations are yet another reason why hospice and palliative care can make such a difference at the end of life.

From the New York Times, Scharlette Holdman at 70:

Circle in the Field is back with a new documentary project, Circle in the Field: Hospice. This new project will focus on the lived experience of handling a terminal diagnosis, and how hospice care and services can help the final days of a life to be more peaceful and comfortable. Like Voices of Hope and Voices of Hope: Family and Friends, this new project will record a series of interviews, bringing together a diverse chorus of voices to provide virtual support and reassurance to those facing a time of crisis.

We have raised half the budget to create the piece and sustain its wide distribution. We are seeking funds from individual donors as well as foundations and corporations.

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Circle in the Field Media grew out of a documentary project, Voices of Hope.

We’ve just released a companion piece, Voices of Hope: Family and Friends.

Circle in the Field Media uses video to share stories. We partner with groups and individuals in storytelling projects that honor the teller and bring the story to a wider audience. At present, we are focused on personal stories a major life event, such as breast cancer. Our documentaries gather a number of individual stories together into a single piece, thereby connecting the storytellers as a circle of support within a larger field, such as the medical field. These documentaries serve as a virtual support groups for people and their loved ones who are now facing the same challenge, and can be distributed in a number of ways, shown in groups or to individuals, delivered online or on DVD.