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Amour and death (love and death)

By Jo Stern

Recently the Academy Award-nominated best foreign film, Amour (directed by

Michael Haneke, starring Jean-Luis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva and Isabelle Hupert) –the heartthrobs of a youth misspent at the movies, has been called, “A Masterpiece You

Might Not Want to See.” (Francine Prose, New York Review of Books, 1/07/13).

While historical drama and escapism of every genre reigns in this awards season, this gentle, loving, provocative and cruel essay in cinema verité style, about the dying of a beloved spouse, the inconvenient death of a parent, repels us by its unsparing examination of the progression of deterioration in a loved one: the physical indignity, the crushing burden of isolation, loss and resignation, and mute desperation of the surviving spouse.

As a Hospice volunteer here in San Miguel for the past couple of years, I’ve also seen a different scenario play out. How a circle of friends, with or without the support of family members, a professional team of Hospice workers: doctor, nurse, social worker, trained caretakers, can ease the dying, assist the patient and his/her supporters, provide the critical pain relief and gain the patient days, weeks, or even months of quality time to be in the present.

In terminal cases, where medical intervention serves only to intercede in the inevitable, often to mollify only the desperation of loved ones or of doctors, is not a replacement for acceptance, coming to terms with, relieving physical suffering and mental anguish. Within the last couple of years Mexican law has allowed for advance directives and palliative care. Hospice San Miguel serves both the Mexican and expatriate communities, delivering services without cost (although the donations of those who can afford it are most welcome). For more information, or to make a referral, please call 152-

6620 and leave your number, or email


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