Here Awhile is a film about medical aid in dying — not so much the “medical” part, not even so much the “dying” part. It’s mostly about the living part. 

The movie is about relationships — not the length of time, but rather the quality of a relationship with another human being. It raises the question: Which is actually more important? 

Once again, the Wabi Sabi Film Festival brings a high-quality, relevant movie to our community. As with the two previous screenings since the advent of the pandemic, Alive Inside and Gen Silent, the next film in this ongoing festival will be online and free. Here Awhile will screen on Friday, Oct. 16 at 10 a.m. Guests will include director/co-writer Tim True and co-writer Csaba Mera, who will be present for a discussion and Q&A following the movie. 

For free registration and tickets, go to

“People who seek medical aid in dying want to live, but they are diagnosed with a terminal illness. They simply want the option to die peacefully without unnecessary suffering by having some say in the timing and manner of their death,” says Roz Byrne, co-chair of the Oak Park/Western Suburbs Action Team, Illinois End Of Life Options Coalition (IEOLOC).

An Oak Park-based volunteer group, IEOLOC is part of Compassion & Choices, a national nonprofit dedicated to improving and expanding options at the end of life. Roz Byrne can be reached at

I’d always thought of medical aid in dying as an aging issue, but one of the strengths of Here Awhile is presents this as an intergenerational issue. In so doing, it highlights the ageism inherent in our attitudes about dying. The movie also exhibits a sensitive treatment of other common relationship prejudices, including ableism, homophobia and racism.

I hope to see you online on Friday, Oct. 16 at 10 a.m. for the screening of Here Awhile and for the post-film Q&A with discussion.

I also hope to see you online this Friday, Oct. 9, at 1 p.m., for a free webinar I will be moderating for the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) titled, “Shifting Ageism: How Consciousness Affects Our Experience of Aging.” I will be joined by a panel composed of Ashton Applewhite, Elizabeth White and Dr. John Holton. Information and registration can be found at

Meanwhile, what will it take to get politicians — local, state or national — who are running for office to utter the words “older people”? How do they plan to deal with the explosion of our older population? How will older people be able to afford a place to live? How will our communities become age-friendly?

Because of longevity, we have entered a new phase for our species. We have added more longevity to our lives since the year 1900 than all of previous human history. This is an achievement to be proud of. Yet there are some who would say that, as a society, we cannot afford this achievement. If we look at aging the way we have for the last 200 years, we will turn this achievement into a crisis rather than a celebration.

For ourselves, our communities and our planet, how we grow older today is unsustainable unless we can shift our consciousness about aging.

A system that is unjust cannot sustain, and a system that is unsustainable cannot be just.

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