I always knew that I wanted to tackle the theme of mourning. I have done it often in my books, on the radio, in my columns, it is a subject that lives in me. On the other hand, I was rather reluctant to use my story to turn it into a documentary. I didn’t want to make a film about me. It was director Maude Sabbagh who made me understand that I could use my experience to go further in the interviews, to approach less known or more taboo angles. And when I watch the film and I see myself telling a dad who has an incurable disease that, at some point, his child may want him to die, I tell myself that Maude understood how one could put my story at the service of the film.
I find that it allowed me to start deep discussions quickly. I converse with parents who don’t know what their child is going through and I, as a former child, have no idea what those parents are going through. It is as if we were looking for answers on both sides. I feel like it creates a more egalitarian exchange: I’m not “vampirizing” their story, I’m digging to better understand mine and they can do the same. And it is the fact of having gone through the incurable illness of a parent that allows me to offer this and to access this.
Completely ! My goal was to break the loneliness. Dying or witnessing the death of a loved one comes with a lot of loneliness, with isolation. Our friends don’t know how to approach the subject, neither do our loved ones, there is a social malaise. I wanted to open the conversation with a film that shows that to talk about death is to celebrate life while it is still there. We see it in a very dark way and it is, but there are also tremendous bursts of light when you tame death.
He founded a peer group called “The Young Trackers”, which is headed by university researchers. It is a group of children who have experienced the disease themselves or that of a parent. They gather to discuss it, without an adult, to be able to tell each other the real business. They would like to be able to help other children and, through the research report, make it clear what children are going through and perhaps do not dare to tell their parents.
When we started the research, with my co-screenwriter Marie-Anne Grenon, we said to ourselves that there shouldn’t be any children in the film. We said to ourselves that they were young, in a state of vulnerability, and that they might regret having testified when they were older. We wanted to focus on parents and experts. That changed when I met Josée Masson from Deuil Jeunesse. She told me that I had no right to prevent a child from telling his story if he wanted to, that it was a bit of a duty to hear what he wanted to say. We chose to make room for children, and that completely changed the perspective of the film.
I showed it to a friend who is living with incurable cancer and she said to me: It makes me feel so good to hear other parents say what I whisper to myself. That a person watches the film and feels seen, heard, understood, less alone, that was my number one goal. I would also like people to realize that there are palliative care resources, psychosocial services. We need an outside perspective to guide us. What we understand in the film is that mourning is different for each person, everyone needs different tools, words, gestures to deal with approaching death. And we don’t have to do it alone.
We agree, I would have preferred not to experience this, but it is also a bit of a gift. The truth is that it teaches us things: the importance of our loved ones, the fact that nothing lasts and that we must enjoy it. That’s what I say in the movie: it taught me that life is worth trying.