Pain and anger a year on from disappearance of MH370

MH370: Families furious over treatment
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Story highlights

  • Jaquita Gonzales' husband was a member of the cabin crew on board MH370
  • She says she's unable to move on until she knows what happened to plane
  • She's one of many relatives of passengers who are angry with how authorities have treated them

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (CNN)Jaquita Gonzales still tries to call her husband on his cellphone. A pair of work shoes still sits outside the front door of their home in Kuala Lumpur waiting to be reclaimed. His uniform still hangs in a cupboard.

Twelve months after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished without a trace, Gonzales hasn't given up hope. She can't. Neither can her children, other family members and friends. Not until there is some conclusive evidence on the fate of the airliner -- one way or another.
    "Now and then, every once in a while I call his phone and it goes to voicemail," she says. "You never know, he might pick it up, or someone who has them would let them have the phone and you know, the hope is still there."
    She's not alone.
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    Families of victims we spoke to hold on to the slimmest belief that MH370, which disappeared barely an hour into its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 last year, did not crash and that the 239 passengers and crew on board are alive.
    "No evidence means there is still a little bit of hope. We tap into that hope in order to go on day by day," says Gonzales.

    A life in limbo

    But she lives a life in limbo. Neither able to move on, nor go back.
    Her comfortable home in the suburbs of Malaysia's capital remains virtually the same since her husband of nearly 30 years, Patrick Gomes, left for work on the evening of March 7 as lead purser on the MH370 red-eye bound for the Chinese capital.
    The only real sign that time has moved on, amid the family photos and plaques celebrating her husband's work achievements is a newspaper on top of a stack in the living room with the word "LOST" splashed across its front page.
    Gonzales' lifeline, apart from family, is her work. She runs a private school and daycare center for about 70 children and spends about 12 hours a day there. Keeping busy, she says, keeps her sane. But not a day goes by without her thinking of Patrick.
    "I can be driving and I just have to pull off the road and weep. Everywhere I go I see Patrick," she says. "In our home, with my children, with our friends. There are so many times around the home when I say Patrick you are supposed to be doing this for me, where are you. He helped me with ironing, with cooking."

    Deep anger

    Like Gonzales, many other families CNN has spoken to say they live in hope that their loved one are still alive even though it seems now a virtual impossibility.
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    But along with hope and the pain, many families also share a deep anger.
    Anger at the Malaysian authorities and Malaysia Airlines who, Gonzales says, are ignoring them. Requests for information are unanswered and attempts to talk to key officials are rebuffed, she says.
    Grace Nathan's mother was on MH370. For almost a year she and her family grieved in private. But now she has gone public after what she describes as the Malaysian authorities continued "mishandling" of the disappearance.
    "There is a lack of transparency, a lack of communications between us and the relevant authorities,' she says.
    "Whenever we've written to them or asked them for answers they have never replied.
    "It's not like they haven't learned. I would put it that they just don't care. They just want to move on. They don't really care about what we feel or what we have to say."

    Adding insult to injury

    One recent decision by Malaysian authorities has caused bitter resentment among many families.
    In late January, the government televised a pre-recorded announcement from the civil aviation chief that the passengers and crew of MH370 were "presumed lost" after the plane crashed as a result of an accident.
    Families were not been given any advance warning of the announcement and, even though it clears the way for compensation claims, they say there is just no evidence to support the statement.
    It also came just before Chinese New Year, a time of celebration. More than 150 passengers on the flight were Chinese nationals.
    To add insult to injury, families say, the government had planned to make the announcement at a press conference but canceled the briefing when next-of-kin rushed to the venue.
    Nathan says she only heard that the government was planning to make the statement when local media rang her.
    "They rang to say 'can we come and record your reaction when this declaration is made?' Our reaction was 'what declaration?' We didn't know anything about it.
    "I haven't spoken to the media at all since the accident happened but after that treatment I decided it was time that we said something. It was a group decision that we speak to the media because (the authorities) never respond to anything we write to them or ask them about," she adds.
    CNN contacted both the Malaysian Government and Malaysia Airlines for a response to the families' claims, but did not receive an answer.
    For relatives like Gonzales and Nathan, each day is a struggle, a struggle to stop being overwhelmed by memories.
    "I am just going through the motions,' says Grace. "I am dead inside, I have stopped being happy. Every day basically I just force myself to get through the day."