Weekly Feature

2016-10-19 / Lifestyles

Documentary on death to be shown at The Screening Room

by LUCY LOPEZ Reporter

“Death Makes Life Possible” is a documentary that considers the idea whether consciousness survives physical death.

The film follows cultural anthropologist and scientist Marilyn Schlitz, who explores theories of life and death through the eyes of different traditions around the world.

One tradition looked at in the documentary includes the well known Day of the Dead holiday in Mexico, which celebrates those who have died and who are believed to return as spirits.

The documentary has been honored with two awards at the 35th annual Telly Awards, has also won the 2014 Gutsy Gals Film Award for Special Category Contemporary Spirituality and has been an official selection in numerous film festivals.

Williamsville native Jennifer Mathews is set to host the film screening. The screening is set for 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 24, at The Screening Room, 3131 Sheridan Drive, Amherst.

Mathews returned to Western New York in 2003 when she became the primary caregiver for her mother who was suffering from advanced pancreatic cancer. She says that for this reason it feels especially meaningful to bring the “Death Makes Life Possible” film to Amherst.

“It feels like a way to honor my mom and her dying process, and to offer inspiration to others who are facing a similar situation.”

Mathews lived in Vermont for many years and currently lives in the small, northern California town of Mount Shasta.

While Mathews plans to honor her mother, she recalls that her involvement with the film came in 2011 after her life partner died of cancer.

“She was the love of my life and died 12 weeks after her diagnosis. Many of the questions

I was pondering after Kate died are addressed in this film, so I became involved in screening the film around the country, leading conversations, and writing study guides because of my own passion for having open dialogues about death and dying.”

Mathews noted that when Kate was dying, they would openly talk about what was happening and when her mom was in the same stage, she did not feel comfortable with those conversations.

“I experienced the difference and the importance of moving beyond the taboo that we ‘aren't supposed to’ talk about death,” Mathews said.

After the film is shown there is going to be a group discussion where Mathews plans to share a bit about her own personal journey and give others a chance to contribute to the conversation.

Mathews says the intention of the film is to transform the fear of dying into an inspiration for living by exploring the mystery of death and life after death.

“The first time I saw the film, I felt very validated and relieved that finally people are talking about these issues in an open way,” Mathews said. “For me, the film confirmed that death isn't something to be afraid of, that it is a natural part of the cycle of life. We are more than our bodies, and I feel the film demonstrates that relationships can continue after someone dies in ways that we perhaps never expected.”

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Hospice Buffalo. To purchase advance tickets online, visit www.deathmakeslifepossible.com or www.amherstdmlp.brownpapertickets.com

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