The Doc Project

Dead mom talking: an intimate mother-daughter journey

Elaine Mitchell had some advice for her daughter Rachel, before she died: "If you’re sad be sad … let yourself feel it." When Elaine found out that she didn't have long to live, her daughter started recording their conversations, creating an intimate archive of the little time they had left together.
Elaine and Rachel on the rooftop of the Park Hyatt Hotel. This, their last visit, was less than two months before Elaine died.

Elaine Mitchell had some advice for her daughter Rachel, before she died: "If you're sad be sad … let yourself feel it."

To feel as close to her mother as possible, Rachel often visits a memorial bench in Toronto's Cedarvale Ravine. She sits on the bench, which is beside a gravel path, under tall trees, and chats with her mom. The bench is a place where Elaine wanted people she knew to come and talk to her after she was gone.

This marker on the bench identifies and commemorates Elaine to all those who sit there.

When Elaine found out that she didn't have long to live, her daughter Rachel moved in to take care of her. Rachel recorded their conversations, creating an intimate archive of the little time they had left together. And when Elaine died, Rachel did something wonderful — and a little strange — with that tape.

About the producer

Rachel Matlow
Rachel Matlow is a producer at q, where she has worked since 2008. She has an MA in media studies from Concordia University with a focus on celebrity and gender/sexuality studies. She's created personal stories for CBC's Outfront and DNTO, and her writing has appeared in The Globe and Mail, National Post, CBC.ca and The Believer. Rachel has also performed stand-up and her darkly-humorous Excerpts from My Unwritten Memoir about My Mother on various stages around town.

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