Why are we afraid of death? Perhaps because we believe that the process of dying is suffering – and because, as an increasingly aging society, we experience less and less about death. Modern high-performance medicine saves countless lives. But it also all too often tries to cure incurable diseases by any means necessary. The price: side effects, pain, nausea and prolongated suffering instead of relief.

But discontinuing therapies that promise to prolong life, or not starting them at all, is a very difficult decision for those affected, their relatives and also for the doctors treating them. So how can this decision be made? And when should palliative care be involved in the treatment? It puts quality of life first, not length of life.

To answer these questions, in the science documentary “Hope Palliative Medicine – Dying in a Self-Determined Way,” we accompany sufferers such as 47-year-old Frank Desens, who is suffering from bladder cancer and for whom no more therapies are working. We visit the palliative care unit in Offenbach and talk to one of Europe’s leading palliative physicians, Gian Domenico Borasio. He coined the expression “loving omission”: “Not everything that can be done by high-performance medicine has to be done,” says Borasio.

A film by: Eva Frank

Cinematography: Ricardo Esteban Garzon Mesa

Additional camera: Alexander Griesser, Jan Hennemann, Lawrence Richards

Sound: Daniel Giesen, Sven Schwegler, Nestor Clavariva

Editing: Lodur Tettenborn

Graphics: Stephan Gruschke , Constanze Werneburg

Sound mixing: Peer Hoffmann

A production by K22film

Commissioned by ZDF, 3sat

First broadcast on 3sat: February 18, 2021