Death is a part of life and we often want to close our eyes to the eventuality. You have those who welcome death, those who fight against it, and those who are resigned. A film maker Lee Chang-jae, a university professor of film, has made the documentary Hospice 2014, taken at a hospice managed by religious sisters. He wanted to film the life of those who would face death, within a short period of time. Although not a Catholic he selected the Mohyon Hospice because of the atmosphere.
Catholic Times has an interview with the film maker which gives us a
good idea of what he learned from his experience. The first hurdle was
to get permission to make the movie. The filming took 10 months; to
ask permission to take pictures in such an environment required a great
deal of maneuvering and sensitivity. He was able, after much talk, to convince the patients that it
would be guidance for those who would come after them, a great gift, and
they gave their permission.
Filming of the hour of
death was difficult; it is a time for mourning and he was with his
camera. With the editing he says he was present at the death bed of at
least 500 persons. Without his drinking, he said, it would not have been possible. He saw the film in the cutting room; doesn't have the
courage to see it in a movie house.
He decided to make
the film while on a 34 day pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de
Compostela in Spain. At that time in his life he was having some
personal problems that he needed to resolve. He did not give the
trip a lot of thought and packed his bag and was off. During the trip
he was systematically getting rid of his belongings. To lighten his
bag he was even throwing out his soaps and tooth paste. When he
returned home he found that there were items that he hadn't even used
once. In the journey of life he wonders how much do we possess that is
not necessary, and makes the journey more difficult.
had the opportunity to experience death it would change our priorities,
our intentions would change, and we would rid ourselves of many of our attachments. He
learned a great deal from the leave taking of many. Rather choosing to be with the medical equipment is it not better to accept the values of life, and spend the
time with the family in preparation for separation?
He ended the interview with the questions asked by the doctors to the patients: Do you want me to put
you to sleep so that you will not feel any pain? Do you rather prefer
to feel a little pain and only half of you will be asleep? Or feel
pain but be wide awake so that you will be conscious of what is around you? What will you select? The response, he says, will tell us gently
our attitude towards life.