Southern California Hospice Foundation collaborated with Showtime Television for over two years to develop the groundbreaking docu-series “Time of Death,” offering an intimate look at eight hospice patients’ final days and how they and their families coped with their pending mortality.

The patients volunteered to share their end-of-life stories on camera, demonstrating to viewers the revolutionary qualities of hospice care for the mind, body, and spirit. With hospice, patients can spend more quality time making memories with loved ones and experience a more peaceful death. They don’t have to fear dying unforgotten, in an institution or unfamiliar environment.

SCHF was on the hospice team for three of the patients featured in the series, working exclusively with them to help shepherd the patients through the entire filming process.

About the Documentary

A review written by James Poniewozik in the November 2013 issue of Time Magazine says, “Time of Death gives its stories structure, but it doesn’t tie them up neatly. Families come together or fracture. People make peace or get angry. They say goodbye or make it to the bedside too late. They offer words of comfort that go wrong. And at the end, there’s a body to remove, a house to clean.”

Although the show is dignified, it can feel intrusive, even when the patients explain that they want their story to be told.* The feelings of discomfort are inevitable because the show reflects real end-of-life issues. But we can change the way we choose to die when faced with a terminal illness—with or without hospice.

SCHF partnered with Showtime Television to shed light on the value and benefits of hospice care. The documentary will help people to develop a healthier relationship with death and dying so that any confusion, fear or doubt, anger or rage—the emotions that accompany death—will dissipate as viewers become more educated about what a good death looks like.

Our goal is to facilitate a dialogue about death and end-of-life wishes. Talking with loved ones about the reality of a prognosis is often very intimidating; it is easier to live in denial. But when those frank conversations do occur, it can lead to great intimacy and connection with friends and family.

*Filming was stopped when requested by patients. Some even carried their own cameras to film themselves privately.

Episode 1 – Michael John Muth

September 23, 1965 – November 27, 2012

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Michael was a veteran with a rare cancer affecting the connective tissues in his muscles. He joined the Navy at 17 years old and credited the military with saving his life. He said that the path out of his high school wasn’t “leading anywhere pretty.” Michael was described as a straight shooter, and in the short three months from his diagnosis to his death, he dealt with it all upfront. By the end, he was ready to go.


Episode 5 – Laura Kovarik

May 14, 1949 – April 21, 2013

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Laura was a single mother of two who worked as an accountant at a theater company for 26 years to put her children through private school in Long Beach. After her diagnosis of breast cancer and her decision not to fight with chemotherapy, she and her daughter Lisa dropped everything and took one last road trip—reliving one of Laura’s fondest childhood pastimes.

Episode 6 – Nicolle Kissee

February 2, 1994 – July 13, 2013

Nicolle Kissee Thumbnail Image

Nicolle was diagnosed with Stage IV melanoma when she was just 16. The doctors believed that surgery had removed all the malignant cells, but by age 19, the cancer was back and had spread to Nicolle’s lungs and brain. Her story relates her enormous positivity throughout her final days with the help of her large family and the hospice team.