End of life discussions are never easy to have – but a number of plays, movies and books are making it easier than ever to understand the issues and take away some of the fear about the decisions we make for ourselves – and for others.

Here are just a few of the arts-based projects recently created to discuss issues around end of life care:

Consider the Conversation – Using a documentary format, U.S. filmmakers Terry Kaldhusdal and Michael Bernhagen hope to inspire a cultural shift from system-centered end of life care to a more person-focused attitude. The documentaries examine the perspectives of individuals, caregivers and health professionals as they face the end of life.

“A Story About Care” This video from the Canadian Virtual Hospice features the powerful reflections of a man with end stage lymphoma and the power of being treated like “a person and not a pathology.”

The Groundswell Project in Australia uses a number of art forms to encourage people of all ages to “create healthier community attitudes about aging, illness, death, dying and bereavement”, including short films made by young people visiting a cemetery, a body cast sculpture event for breast cancer patients, and play readings focused on end of life discussions.

Untying Love – This play premiered off-Broadway in October 2012 and features the story of a man caring for his hospitalized and terminally ill mother while navigating the challenges of supporting a family member at the end of life.

Evacuation Plan: a Novel from the hospice – Author Joe O’Connell, a former hospice volunteer from Austin, TX, introduces Matt, an aspiring filmmaker who volunteers to work with the terminally ill to develop his next story. His experiences are an insightful and thoughtful look into the people who work, die and mourn in the unique environment of a hospital ward.

We’ve also produced two videos that you can watch on your own or with family and friends – you can find them on our website or on Youtube.

Thinking about having the conversation but don’t know how to get started? Watch a movie, see a play, or read a book – and get Act 1 started!

Louise Hanvey is the Project Director for the National Advance Care Planning in Canada Project Speak Up: Start the conversation about end-of-life care, with the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association (CHPCA). She is a registered nurse with broad clinical experience.