Lifting Death’s Veil: A Conversation with Atul Gawande
Harvard surgeon and New Yorker writer Atul Gawande’s powerful book Being Mortal explored death and dying in America and rose to the top of the bestseller lists, but it was a nationally broadcast Frontline documentary of the same name that catapulted him to the forefront of the national conversation about end-of-life care. In an era when more and more medical treatment often doesn’t allow people’s lives to end the way they want, Gawande’s message has never been more important.
In 2015 the California Health Care Foundation and the John and Wauna Harman Foundation created a community engagement campaign in California centered on local screenings of the film. As chronicled in a new report about the project, these events attracted a more diverse audience than the television broadcast — and one receptive to the film’s message. As a result, the Harman Foundation plans to extend the campaign nationwide.
I recently spoke with Gawande about his experience filming “Being Mortal” and how far America has come in talking about death and dying.