A Review: A Sense of the Ending

“ ‘A Sense of the Ending’ is a television production about terminal illness as seen from the quite different perspectives of two women who had cancer. It was directed and produced by William Guth, director of Media Communications, Yale School of Medicine.

“Richard Sewall, professor emeritus of English at Yale, related with compassion and poetry ‘the very remarkable experience’ of his wife Mathilde’s death. Mrs. Sewall, a potter and weaver, was a woman whose spirit and sense of humor remained until the day she died at their home in Bethany, Connecticut. …

“Charlotte Barnard spent the last six months of her life in the hospital, conscious—reading and ‘thinking about things’—and attached to an intravenous, hyperelementation [sic] life care pump, with a tube out of her nose. She, too, was a woman of tremendous courage and a sustaining sense of humor. She had hoped to be able to die at home, but circumstances of her death necessitated hospitalization.

“During those six months, Mrs. Bernard did a great deal of thinking about her situation and what she could do to improve similar experiences of other patients. She agreed to be interviewed for a short videotape prepared for a seminar on medical ethics for Yale medical and law students. Her physician and friend, Dr. Howard Spiro, professor of medicine and well-known gastroenterologist, conducted the provocative and moving interview.”