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Monday, March 20, 2023

Why Quebec fashion retailer Simons addresses medical aid in dying on its shopping website

Quebec-based retailer Simons made a deliberate move towards “inspiration” last month as part of a new video called everything is beauty.

The video is centered and narrated by Jennyfer Hatch from BC.

The 37-year-old woman died on October 23 and chose medical assistance in dying (MAID) after dealing with complications and chronic pain associated with her diagnosis of Ehlers Danlos syndrome, a group of inherited disorders that affect the connective tissue that supports many parts of the body. .

In the video, available on Simons’ shopping website, viewers can take a look back at moments from Hatch’s last month and hear her share her thoughts on life, death and her quest to fill her final days “with beauty.” , nature and connection”.

Hatch sat on the shore of a Tofino beach as part of Simons’ video. Simons says that he was committed to the filming process and promised that he would “destroy” the entire project if Hatch didn’t like the final product. (Simon)

Peter Simons, the fashion chain’s chief commercial officer, says the documentary project began after meeting Hatch through the MAID program and traveling to Vancouver to talk about working on a one-off film.

“We really feel, after everything we’ve been through in the last two years and what everyone has been through, that maybe it would resonate more to make a project less commercially oriented and more focused on the inspiration and values ​​that we hold dear,” Simons said. . .

Simons says he thinks customers will appreciate the unconventional move.

“I learned early in my career not to underestimate our clients. They are smart and thoughtful and want to have tough conversations,” he said.

“This isn’t about MAID, it’s really a story. It’s a celebration of Jennyfer’s life, and I think she has a lot to teach us.”

‘Uncharted territory’ for Simons

simons says everything is beauty it is unlike any other company project to date. They gave Hatch “total control” by telling his story while preparing unique scenes and experiences for Hatch and his closest friends in Tofino, BC.

“I think maybe something has been lost in today’s corporate world of understanding that privilege comes with responsibilities and being involved in the communities where we work,” Simons said.

“Sometimes it won’t necessarily be an easy art. It will be a more difficult art and that’s part of the commitment,” he said. “Jennyfer’s life was a work of art.”

“We were heading into kind of uncharted territory for us,” Simons said. “I think everyone was proud that she felt we had done her philosophy of life justice.”

Simons says that Hatch and his friends saw the movie. It was released on October 24, the day after his death.

His friends Josh Dahling and Heather Mohan participated in the filming.

“It’s still a bit fresh,” Dahling said. “We all cried… We thought it was beautiful and we hope it continues to create these waves.”

‘In an ideal world, she would have been here today’

Dahling and Mohan were friends of Hatch’s but also colleagues at the Lumara Grief and Bereavement Care Centre.

Hatch was the center’s music therapist and was “passionate about using singing,” Mohan said. Hatch helped clientele dealing with serious illness, bereavement, and bereavement.

A woman holds a cello, her eyes closed.  Another woman passes the bow through the strings.
The cello was one of Hatch’s “favorite things,” according to his friends. In one of the video scenes, Hatch was led to a cellist, who helped her feel the vibration of the instrument. (Simon)

Dahling says that Hatch discussed her decision to pursue MAID often and says that she hoped the video would “expand people’s awareness” of the importance of dying in a “humane way.”

“We as a society do a lot to help bring people into this world, but we do very little to help get them out,” Dahling said.

“I’ll tell you, she loved life. In an ideal world, she would have been here today… There was no way she was [pursuing medical assistance in dying] she wanting to leave the world because she didn’t love to live. And that takes a lot of courage and a lot of acceptance.”

Quebec AM11:06Everything is beauty: Jennyfer

Quebec-based chain store Simons has a thought-provoking new project called All is Beauty. The video tells the story of Jennyfer and her last days before receiving medical assistance to die. Peter Simons, Simons’s head dealer, tells Quebec AM host Julia Caron why it’s important to make art more “difficult,” even as a company.

The experience of filming was “a profoundly beautiful thing”

Hatch’s friend and colleague Tama Recker described the filming experience in September as “a profoundly beautiful thing.”

“Nothing was directed, like nothing. It was very natural. It was really these experiences created just for her to enjoy in a very organic way and it was magical,” Recker said.

Two women sit next to each other on a beach.
Jennyfer Hatch, left, and Tama Recker, right, sat on the beach while filming in Tofino. His friends noted that it was unusually beautiful for a region that usually gets a lot of rain. They said the sky was clear on the days they filmed. (Submitted by Ashley Bell)

Recker points out that while Hatch’s story of finding MAID may be difficult for some people, the focus should be on inviting conversation about these topics.

“It’s not about what any of us believe, it’s about honoring people who have different choices and being able to choose things that honor and respect them,” Recker said. “Jen was deeply honored and respected in her choices, in the way she lived and in the way she died.”

A woman raises her fingers in a sign of peace next to a cow eating hay.
Jennyfer Hatch visited a farm in her last days. (Submitted by Josh Dahling)

Importance of ‘conveying complex emotions’

The final three-minute video has been viewed more than a million times on YouTube.

It’s no surprise that the video has gotten so much attention, says Dr. Stefanie Green, author, family physician, and co-founder and president of the Canadian Association of MAID Providers and Advisors (CAMAP).

“I think Canadians are ready for that. I mean, it’s been six years that we’ve been talking about and practicing assisted dying,” Green said, referring to the legalization of the MAID in 2016.

“The vast majority of Canadians are very supportive of dying aid…I think [this video] is what they hope MAID can be. And seeing it come to fruition, really seeing it, visually, is probably reassuring to people.”

It may be interesting for Canadians to see a brand participate in this conversation, says David Kenneth Wright, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa’s school of nursing.

“A corporation exists to make money, so it’s a valid question about what the motives are here,” said Wright, who specializes in the ethics of end-of-life care.

He says that the discourse around MAID before it was legalized in 2016 was highly polarized. Although some of that still exists, he says sharing personal experiences, like Hatch’s, is one way to help people understand some of the nuances of this option.

“MAID is still a stigmatized way to die. And even in the comments, I think in this video, you see some people react with ‘I’m not going to shop at Simons again’ or whatever,” Wright said.

A slim woman, wrapped in scarves and blankets, smiles and holds up a Polaroid camera.
Simons threw a “dessert party” for Hatch and his closest friends in the Tofino forest. (Submitted by Josh Dahling)

“I think it’s very important to remember that this video is about a real person’s end-of-life experience and any time a dying person decides to spend their energy changing the social conversations we have about death, that needs to be treated with deep concern. respect,” he said.

“Any disagreement someone might have with his message, and I have some, should be offered from a place that honors his choice to contribute something meaningful in the short time he had left before he died.”

Wright notes that although the video may “denote the ugliness of dying in the hospital,” death experiences and preferences vary significantly from person to person.

Jennifer says [the hospital] It’s not a place of sweetness, and sweetness is necessary, but when hospital care is done well, we actually see that a gentle end-of-life experience is possible,” Wright said.

He points out that it’s important to emphasize the complexity of death, such as the scene in the video that showed a tear rolling down Hatch’s cheek.

“[That] is conveying a complex emotion. I was happy to hear the line ‘with all the pain, there is still so much beauty,’ thus acknowledging that beauty and pain exist together in tension,” Wright said.

“[Because] yes, there is a way to bring beauty to the end of life, but the end of life is rarely just beautiful. The end of life is almost always a messy contradiction of beauty, suffering, joy and pain. And any creative or artistic depiction of end-of-life, even from a retailer, will be more authentic if it captures those tensions.”

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