Life-Affirming Film on How to Face the Fear of Death by Living Life to its Fullest

In a world that sees death as something to vanquish, the 45-minute documentary Living While Dying presents an alternative: people living with terminal illness who greet the inevitable with courage, humor, creativity and acceptance. Though the subject is difficult, the film is surprisingly uplifting.


In Living While Dying, filmmaker Cathy Zheutlin sets out on a brave quest to face mortality. The new film will be screened in multiple cities this spring. Every screening is followed by Q & A with the filmmaker and invited guests.

We have a special treat for viewers in Pelham.  Cathy’s mom, Jonnie Szold Zheutlin, now 91, grew up in Pelham. She is featured in the film, and she will be here in person for the Q& A. Jonnie walked across America in 1986. She has 5 grown kids, 4 grand-kids, and down-to-earth wisdom and spunk.

Death is a big mystery, yet the outcome is 100% certain. Dispelling traditional fears and expectations about death, Living While Dying invites us to reimagine and set the stage for our own inevitable endings. It offers profound opportunities to uncover value, grace, and meaning for all stages of life.

Zheutlin travels from Portland to Australia to Bali as she explores and unravels her own fears with an open, upbeat style. Along the way, she meets an Aboriginal elder and a “death walker” in Australia, and she witnesses a mass cremation in Bali. Because it’s personal, she invites her 90-year old mom to an outside the box moment – sitting inside a box, a coffin, to talk with her about her end-of-life wishes.

Says Zheutlin, “It’s not really about dying at all. It’s about asking: ‘How am I living today, because I actually could die tomorrow…Is the life I am living today the life I truly want?’

Given the growing global Silver Tsunami of older adults, both Boomers and Millennials are now creating a grassroots movement to reclaim death as a natural part of life.

For the past 40 years, Zheutlin has made films that explore consciousness and encourage progressive change. Past projects include Lost Love and the documentary Just One Step: The Great Peace March, the story of a 9-month cross-country trek for global nuclear disarmament. A wife, mother and craniosacral biodynamic healer, Zheutlin recently completed the award-winning short, Spirituality in the Workplace.


Living While Dying launched in Portland, OR to a sold-out premiere at the Clinton Street Theater, surprising and delighting the audience and extended community. Future screenings will take place in local theaters, community centers, churches, temples, schools, and libraries.

Following each screening audiences will be invited to join a discussion that can help change how we perceive death and dying. The filmmaker, along with end-of-life experts, will offer open-ended questions, inviting the audiences to address a topic once deemed taboo.

A good threshold movie for those beginning to wrestle with or confront what death can be…”


“Everything you wanted to know about conscious dying but were afraid to ask.”


Of all the end-of-life documentaries I’ve watched … yours touched me the most deeply throughout the entire film …Your tender and sensitive filming of both their struggles and their ease with death, their embrace of life and love, is beautiful. I really appreciate your first-person perspective as well, because that is the most powerful way to connect with viewers and help them identify their own fears and denial.”

Karen M. Wyatt, MD, Hospice Physician, Spiritual Teacher, Speaker, Author of What Really Matters