Wisdom//

This New Documentary Series Will Make You Rethink The Way You See Death

By giving the dying a voice, we might learn a thing or two about how to live.

Death and dying can feel deeply personal — and even frightening — to discuss, so we tend to tiptoe around the topic, essentially making it a taboo. But in a new documentary series, The View From Here, which premiered today on Topic.com, director Scott Z. Burns presents the intimate vignettes of five individuals living with terminal illness, with the goal of reframing our cultural conversation about death from a taboo to another (beautiful, even inspiring) part of life. Sharing their first-hand stories of love, pain, fear, and happiness, each of the five subjects opens up about death in a way that is honest, unconventional, and profoundly brave.

“I’ve been so privileged to have this long life,” 84-year-old musician Sally says in one clip, shown below. “Deep in my core, I’ve always thought ‘There’s gonna be a tomorrow. There’s gonna be a future,’” she shares. “There will be a future in some way, but I don’t know what it is.”

Each candid narrative follows an individual’s story as they near the end of their lives, and each one is enlightening in its own way. Aside from Sally’s touching story, the series follows the stories of David, Lee, Brian, and Linda — all facing their terminal illnesses with a sense of positivity and calm.

Burns, the filmmaker, said in a statement that the series was made with the ambition that learning more about dying will make us see life through a new lens. “Our hope was that by training the unblinking eye of the camera on something we tend to turn away from that we can come to see it differently,” he said.

Watch the following clip for a glimpse into one of the series’ thought-provoking stories.

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