Film Review: The Last Ecstatic Days

by | May 2, 2024 | Death and Dying, TV & Film Death Themes“The Last Ecstatic Days,” is a documentary film depicting the life and death of Ethan Sissor, 36 years old and dying of brain cancer. He shared his cancer journey on social media and wanted his death to be filmed to help others with their passage. He believed death could be a beautiful experience and his wish was to die in community.

The hospice intake unit where he was staying refused his request to film his death. His hospice physician, Dr. Aditi Sethi, made phone calls and in a short period of time, a community formed around Ethan. Someone offered their home as a place for Ethan to die and Dr. Sethi had an inner calling to accompany Ethan through his dying process, not as his hospice physician but as someone who would coordinate the emergent community around him. She took time off from her hospice job and they hired a home hospice agency to support Ethan and many practitioners of various disciplines held space for Ethan – a Shaman, acupuncturist, and body/somatic workers to name a few.

I recommend that you view this film and meet Ethan firsthand. If you have wondered what active dying looks like, the camera does not shy away from Ethan’s laborious experience. He did not eat or drink for two weeks. His death wasn’t easy (in my opinion) but it was beautiful. He was well supported and loved by his faithful mother, hospice workers, Dr. Sethi and the wonderful community members who provided comfort and calm for Ethan. A person’s death is an individual experience – no two deaths are the same. Ethan’s experience may be very appealing for some and too much for others. What I appreciate about the movie is that it demonstrates the possibility of dying while being supported by a community of people who could hold space for Ethan’s experience.Ethan generously provided a close-up view of his death in hopes that the people who see the film will be impacted by it. The experience was life changing for Dr. Aditi Sethi who opened The Center for Conscious Living and Dying in Asheville, NC to help people who need or want a place to die within the arms of a community. Ethan continues to impact people with the power of this film which will hopefully find viewers for many years to come. Film trailer here.