Welcome to Living Well with MS, where we are pleased to welcome Krystina Christiansen as our guest! Krystina is a filmmaker who has recently finished a documentary about an end-of-life letter she found, written by a man with MS.

Overcoming MS wants everyone to live a full and healthy life with MS, but it is inevitable that everyone, with or without MS, will pass away. It is therefore unhelpful that death is often a taboo subject. Krystina talks to Geoff about healthy ways to think about your own mortality, her new film, ‘Dear Brandon’ and planning ahead for your end of life, which is something that everyone needs to consider.

Keep reading for the key episode takeaways.

Read the episode transcript

Topics and Timestamps:

02:29 Krystina found an end-of-life letter from a man with MS on a mountain in Hawaii.

04:12 ‘Dear Brandon’ is a film about death and grief, but also hope and community.

08:00 Dying well with an incurable chronic illness.

10:41 Healthy ways to think about your own mortality.

12:31 Writing a will and planning your funeral.

14:55 Resources at the end of life.

18:00 Death doulas can help the dying and their families.

20:18 Death cafes are safe spaces to talk about mortality.

24:35 Follow along with Brandon’s story and Krystina’s films.

Selected Key Takeaways:

Talking about death and dying doesn’t have to be taboo
07:03 “To know Brandon is to know someone who is going to die, he is on his deathbed. That's the social contract that you agree to when you become friends with him. I’d also like to point out that that's the social contract you have with everybody. It's just more obvious with him, I guess. I've learned that sometimes just talking about [death] does make it a bit easier for everyone.”

Make a plan for your funeral and estate
09:32 “Make sure that you plan for your death if it is something that we have the opportunity to do. Planning makes not only your end of life a bit smoother, but also for the ones you leave behind. It makes their lives a lot better and allows them to just focus on grieving versus dealing with the business of death.”

Death is not an emergency
19:05 “If you have someone in the home who passes away, you don't have to call anyone immediately. You can take your time and be with your loved one. There is no rush. You can even have people come over and say goodbye in the home. You can prepare the body in the home, there are so many different options.”

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Krystina’s Bio:

Krystina Christiansen is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles, CA. She's produced, directed, and written a bit of everything - from documentaries and music videos to art installations and talk shows.

Krystina’s new film, ‘Dear Brandon’

She has recently completed her documentary, ‘Dear Brandon', following a former outdoorsman with MS who, at the end of his life, writes a letter that was left on a hiking trail in Utah by his social worker. The inspirational letter quickly made its way to the highest peaks in the world by his newfound family of strangers which is how Krystina finds it 3,000 miles away in Hawaii. Learn more about the film here.

Krystina’s personal life

When not immersed in storytelling she can most likely be found maintaining her Duolingo streak, wandering a National Park, art gallery, or the nearest science museum.