Hold Me is the story of a caregiver, Hannah, whose job it is to accompany people through doctor assisted dying.
After accompanying a friend's father through his final hours, Hannah finds herself conflicted and uncertain. She can barely bring herself to do her job any longer and soon, her own mother is hospitalized. Desperate for money to pay for the medical bills, Hannah agrees to the unthinkable–to meet someone before she holds them–to get to know someone before she has to watch them die.
As her life spirals out of control, Hannah tries to keep herself together for the sake of those around her. But her judgment falters and her mother's health suddenly worsens. She can't escape the path she's chosen or the memories of all those she's ushered to death's door. With no other direction to turn, Hannah faces her pain and allows herself to grieve.
Hold Me is not a film about doctor assisted dying, it's a film about having a conversation about end of life care. A conversation about dying, about hospice, palliative care and about how hard all of these conversations can be to have at all. I created the film in this way because, before people are willing to discuss something as difficult as the final moments of life, they have to be compelled to talk about it. That's what this film aims to do. That's what this film is all about.
Hold Me is told in a fictional context, from the vantage point of a caregiver who works in close conjunction with medical professionals in a way that is not legally sanctioned by the state. The themes of the film are presented in this unorthodox way because, in the for-profit medical bureaucracies of most states within the United States, it is reasonable to suppose that to provide the proper care and services for the sick and dying, that some people will lend their hearts to fill in for the many holes ingrained in such a problematic system. The character of Hannah is one of such people. And because of the way in which she is forced to do her job in secret, she is constrained by the burden of never being able to talk about it to anyone.
The unfortunate reality of being bottled up and confined with the grief of those she has secretly assisted in death haunts Hannah relentlessly. She has sacrificed herself to alleviate their burden and in doing so has burdened herself. Such is often a natural aside to those who work with the dying, losing loved ones, friends and confidants over and over again. And with that process of loss comes the inevitable demands of grief. It is a part of the healing process after all to accept the pain that such experiences can bring. And this part of the healing process is exactly that which the character of Hannah has never truly allowed herself to indulge–Growing more and more strained by the sacrifices she has made until she can no longer bear to carry them.
The intention of the film is to act as a non-confrontational means of broaching numerous relevant, controversial subjects to the public in a way that does not add to the burden of the viewer's personal grief or losses but rather contextualizes grief in a way that alleviates its weight. Everyone can identify with the pain that accompanies death and a great many can relate with the lingering heartbreak that underlies such losses when a loved one has been made to suffer unnecessarily at the end of their life. Conversations about advanced directives are often left until the very end and due in large part to semantics looming over every detail of the final moments of someone's life, the very end can often be laden with struggle and strife. Hold Me is a story about how it's ok to be overwhelmed sometimes, about how those who work with the dying know these realities all too well, and, most of all, it's a story about healing.
The central focus of the film Hold Me is Hannah's struggle with speaking openly about her experiences with loss and grief. Her character in the film is representative of the viewers own reservations towards speaking about death.
The Caregiver Outreach campaign will be an ongoing collection of testimonials from professional caregivers working closely with people at the end of life. This will form a growing assortment of audio recordings speaking about end of life care, doctor assisted dying, philosophy on life, caregiving, overcoming grief and more.
Social Media Coordinator/Outreach Manager