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Showtime's Time of Death

Time of Death is a new series on Showtime depicting stories of families with a terminally ill member. Presented in documentary fashion, producers of the series aim to deliver intimate portrayals of the final moments of life.

This series is well worth a moment of your time, even during this busy holiday season; it provides a realistic glimpse into the dying process—one not presented in most movies or television shows. It doesn't contain glamorized stories of heroic and successful medical treatments. Each week, we meet new characters; each week they die. In between, they undergo medical treatments, struggle with family issues, and grapple with mortality.

In the first episode, available free on YouTube or on the Showtime website, viewers meet Michael, a man diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer of the connective tissue. Michael accepts his impending death with grace, while his taciturn father struggles to cope with the fast-moving reality of his son's mortality. The hospice nurse helps his family understand the dying process as he takes his final breath.

Read more: Showtime's Time of Death

This Week in the Movement

Throughout the week, we keep people up-to-date about the Death with Dignity movement and other topics related to end-of-life care through Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Below are highlights from the last couple weeks.

Efforts regarding Death with Dignity:

Read more: This Week in the Movement

Knocking on Heavens Door

Katy Butler's Knocking on Heaven's Door

Katy Butler's Knocking on Heaven's Door, a memoir of her parents' deaths which also provides a journalistic appraisal of the economic, technological and cultural evolution of how we die, has been uniformly well received with a bizarre caveat. Reviewers, interviewers and Butler herself all expressed surprise a book on the taboo subject of death has proven so popular among readers.

One interviewer relates that as she prepared for her conversation with Butler, a café server asked about the book and told her a story about her father's death from cancer. "This prompted other people at the counter to talk about their aging parents and how they want to handle end-of-life care." Apparently, one person who speaks out can spark a broad conversation about this universal human concern. Knocking on Heaven's Door suggests a lack of openness about dying and avoidance of the subject enable the many problems people experience with end-of-life care.

Read more: Knocking on Heavens Door

8 Things I Learned From My Brother Before He Died

Laura Saltman and her brother, Jason

Laura Saltman is a Host/Correspondent/TV Expert with over 14 years in the entertainment business. She has appeared on TV programs all over the dial including Access Hollywood, CNN's Showbiz Tonight, E's Chelsea Lately, CNN's The Joy Behar Show and TV Guide's Idol Chat and Fashion Team among others.

Her post originally appeared on her Access Hollywood blog, Dish of Salt.

While much of the world was mourning the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy on Friday, I was mourning the loss of my brother, Jason, who died at age 47 from stomach cancer.

They died 50 years apart on the exact same day.

While one was a beloved world leader and public figure and the other a private young man, they shared one major thing in common—that they wanted to make our world a better place. Even as a kid in his schoolwork my brother quoted JFK's "Nation of Immigrants" speech. My heart is broken at the loss of my brother but along the way he has taught me so much.

The things he learned in his life sometimes people never learn in their entire lifetimes. I'd like to believe his time on this earth was cut short not because cancer came knocking at his door but because he had learned everything we as human beings are meant to learn in this realm. I know wherever he is, he is going to continue his work healing the environment.

Read more: 8 Things I Learned From My Brother Before He Died

We All Deserve a Right to Choice

Penny Shelfer

A message from Penny:

I remember reading about the Death With Dignity movement at some point before my diagnosis.

I began working as a fitter for a mastectomy boutique in October of 2008, two months after my own mastectomy, which was caused by the stage III breast cancer found in my left breast and many lymph nodes in the left auxilla. Working in a position that would allow me to directly support other women and families affected by breast cancer came naturally to me, and also took the focus off of myself.

While working there, I'd met so many women who were devastated not just by the disease itself, but also the physical damage caused by sometimes numerous surgeries and radiation. When a person's diagnosed with cancer, in many cases the first word associated in one's mind is Death. Prolonged and pain filled.

I began researching the Death With Dignity Acts in Oregon and Washington because, like many of the ladies who voiced their fears to me, I do not want to die in agony and have my family witness such a death. Through my research I discovered the documentary How to Die in Oregon and after shedding tears of relief that Death with Dignity is a viable and legal option in some states, a huge weight was lifted from my soul.

Read more: We All Deserve a Right to Choice

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Defend dignity. Take action.

You are the key to ensuring well-crafted Death with Dignity laws for all Americans. With your financial and volunteer help, the Death with Dignity National Center, a 501(c)(3), non-partisan, non-profit organization, has been the leading advocate in the death with dignity movement. Member contributions helped us pass a new Death with Dignity law in Washington, defend the Oregon law, and provide education and outreach programs for the vitality of the death with dignity movement.

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