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Filmmaker’s Parents Choose Medical Aid in Dying, End Their Lives in Emotional Docuseries: Editing ‘Was Hell’ (Exclusive)

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Serene Meshel-Dillman opens up to PEOPLE about her six-part docuseries, ‘Take Me Out Feet First,’ saying the decision to end your life “should be a human right”

Within five years, filmmaker Serene Meshel-Dillman witnessed both of her parents end their lives in the comfort of their home.

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Filmmaker’s Parents Choose Medical Aid in Dying, End Their Lives in Emotional Docuseries: Editing ‘Was Hell’ (Exclusive)
Serene Meshel-Dillman opens up to PEOPLE about her six-part docuseries, ‘Take Me Out Feet First,’ saying the decision to end your life “should be a human right”

By Vanessa Etienne Updated on May 17, 2024 02:31PM EDT
Filmmaker Serene Meshel-Dillman with her parents
Serene Meshel-Dillman with her parents. PHOTO: COURTESY SERENE MESHEL-DILLMAN
Serene Meshel-Dillman lost both of her ill parents after they chose their right to medical aid in dying
She documented their decisions and their deaths in her new documentary, Take Me Out Feet First
The filmmaker, 61, hopes that their stories and others will drive medical aid in dying into law in every state

Within five years, filmmaker Serene Meshel-Dillman witnessed both of her parents end their lives in the comfort of their home.

“I think once somebody’s made up their mind that way, I don’t think you can dissuade them,” the 61-year-old tells PEOPLE. “So we can have our opinions and we can say what we felt, but it really has no bearing on somebody else’s or my parents’ decision once they had made up their minds.”

Speaking about her new documentary, Take Me Out Feet First, Meshel-Dillman — a New York City native — opens up about her parents, Miriam and Robert, choosing their right to medical aid in dying (MAID). It’s different from euthanasia because the patients themselves administer prescribed drugs to end their lives, rather than a doctor.

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SUBSCRIBE
Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck’s Relationship Timeline

LIFESTYLE
HEALTH
Filmmaker’s Parents Choose Medical Aid in Dying, End Their Lives in Emotional Docuseries: Editing ‘Was Hell’ (Exclusive)
Serene Meshel-Dillman opens up to PEOPLE about her six-part docuseries, ‘Take Me Out Feet First,’ saying the decision to end your life “should be a human right”

By Vanessa Etienne Updated on May 17, 2024 02:31PM EDT
Filmmaker Serene Meshel-Dillman with her parents
Serene Meshel-Dillman with her parents. PHOTO: COURTESY SERENE MESHEL-DILLMAN
Serene Meshel-Dillman lost both of her ill parents after they chose their right to medical aid in dying
She documented their decisions and their deaths in her new documentary, Take Me Out Feet First
The filmmaker, 61, hopes that their stories and others will drive medical aid in dying into law in every state

Within five years, filmmaker Serene Meshel-Dillman witnessed both of her parents end their lives in the comfort of their home.

“I think once somebody’s made up their mind that way, I don’t think you can dissuade them,” the 61-year-old tells PEOPLE. “So we can have our opinions and we can say what we felt, but it really has no bearing on somebody else’s or my parents’ decision once they had made up their minds.”

Speaking about her new documentary, Take Me Out Feet First, Meshel-Dillman — a New York City native — opens up about her parents, Miriam and Robert, choosing their right to medical aid in dying (MAID). It’s different from euthanasia because the patients themselves administer prescribed drugs to end their lives, rather than a doctor.

In June 2017, Miriam was diagnosed with stage four spindle cell sarcoma, a rare form of cancer, after several months of back pain. She was told her disease was terminal and she had just months to live.

“She called me from the car on the way back from the doctor and she said, ‘I feel like I’m living in an alternative universe because I just got a three-month death diagnosis,’” Meshel-Dillman recalls.

Miriam — who spent decades working as a social worker for terminally ill cancer patients and witnessed her daughter-in-law’s “horrendous” six-year battle with cancer before her death — knew immediately after receiving her diagnosis that she wanted to choose MAID.

“She just didn’t want to go through that and she didn’t want us to go through that,” Meshel-Dillman says of her mom’s decision. “It was a no brainer. She said, ‘This is what I’m doing.’ She didn’t even ask about it, she just said, ‘I’m doing it.’”

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