Last week I was lying in bed channel surfing, and I came upon Showtime’s new series “Time of Death.” I read the preview of the show and decided to watch it, knowing it was going to be a real tear jerker. That is a real understatement.
“Time of Death” is Showtime’s six-part documentary series which follows eight people (and their families) dealing with the end of their lives. I have to tell you, it is both a struggle and an amazingly beautiful thing to watch.
The producers, Magical Elves, best known for reality shows such as “Project Runway” and “Top Chef,” take the leap to an “unflinching, intimate look at remarkable people facing their own mortality.” And do they ever. I was swept away in the beauty and unobtrusive way theses pieces were done.
At first, I wasn’t sure if I could handle watching people die, but after finishing the second episode, I was hooked. The first story I experienced was about Lenore, a psychotherapist with pancreatic cancer, who had to say goodbye to her husband, sons and grandchildren. What resonated with me, was the love of her husband and sons. The interviews with Lenore and her husband were intense and wonderful. It really made me look at my life and the way I show — or should show — my love and affection for the people I care about (I think I do a pretty good job).
The second story on episode three was of Cheyenne Bertiloni, a 47-year-old father of two, who’s fighting ALS. Cheyenne had been a bad ass as a young man. He was a troubled kid, did drugs (and other things not mentioned), was a champion MMA fighter, had two sons from different women (which he hadn’t met until his diagnosis), and lead a wild and crazy life.
The beauty of his story was that he found a woman to love and take care of him (she was truly amazing), he was able to connect and spend time with his two boys before his death, and he was able to reestablish a good relationship with his mother. Watching how much he changed after being diagnosed was pure joy (in a sad way). Cheyenne was able to grow up (as he said himself). He was so happy to connect with his sons and his mother. It truly made me weep, and watching him die was a tough thing to swallow.
Side Note: And let me tell you, hospice nurses are truly a gift from heaven. I can’t give them enough praise for what they do.
Showtime’s “Time of Death” should be a learning experience for all of us. Death isn’t something we like to think about or even talk about, but this series gives us a realism about our own mortality and makes of think about what’s important in our lives – family, love, happiness, goals, the way we treat people, a bucket list – you name it. I came out of the first couple episodes pondering all of these things and thinking about when my time may be up.
Although it may be hard for some to watch, I recommend watching this intimate, well-done documentary series. Just make sure you have a box of Kleenex next to you.
“Time of Death” airs Fridays at 9pm ET/PT on Showtime.