With the guidance of Zen Hospice founder, Frank Ostaseski, seven
people who have lost loved ones or who face terminal illnesses came
to discover the transformation and healing that can sometimes come
in grief's wake. In their own words, they recount their experience
of grief and healing.
Pervanche McGee lost her mother one year ago. Being in law enforcement,
she has found that some of her colleagues are impatient with her
grief. "They want me to get over it, but I can't. As a black woman,
my role was to care for my family. I don't have a role anymore."
Her mother was cared for at the Zen Hospice Project, which was founded
by Frank Ostaseski.
Paul McVetty is forty-six years old and the father of a seventeen-month
old, adopted daughter. He was diagnosed five years ago with Hepatitis
C. He is awaiting a liver transplant, which is quite possibly the
only thing that can save his life. He is also waiting for a blood
test to see if he qualifies for Interferon treatments. His greatest
wish is for things to go back to the way they were before his diagnosis.
Cathy Chin's husband died two and a half years ago. He was diagnosed
in December and died the following month. She responded to his death
by isolating herself at home but eventually found her way to a support
group, and subsequently became a hospice volunteer.
Joyce Mita has been living with breast cancer for ten years. She
is now a stage four metastatic breast cancer patient, with cancer
in the liver and bone as well. She fought for her medical plan to
pay for acupuncture treatments, and won. Joyce says, "I know there
is no cure, but I want as much quality and quantity as I can get."
Joyce's doctors have told her that there are no other interventions.
She has a son, Ryan, nineteen and a daughter Allison, sixteen.
A year ago, Wendy Johnson's father committed suicide after finding
out he had a terminal illness. Wendy has been very angry and upset
about her father's death. Even though she is a trained hospice volunteer
and a practicing Buddhist, she felt that her training was of little
help in her grief. She also wondered how to explain her father's
death to her children.
Joan August is currently caring for her son Bo, who has AIDS. When
Bo was diagnosed five years ago, she decided the only way they were
going to make it was for them to focus on the living. Joan is divorced
but her ex-husband moved back in with her to help care for Bo.
Jim Locke was sixty-eight at the time With Eyes Open was
filmed, and died shortly thereafter. Jim was diagnosed with cancer
one year ago. In the last months of his life, his wife was his greatest
support who often helped him out of despair. He and his wife attended
support groups through the wellness community, whose members became
like a family to him.