Sadness engulfs Malaysia and the world. We grief for MH370

On March 8, MH370 was on its way to Beijing, when something happened, that is still puzzling the world. The plane diverted from its origal flight path, communication was switched off, and then it disappeared from the radars.

The world was looking for the plane for 17 days.

Over the past few days, signs emerged that it crashed into the Indian Ocean. On board, 227 passengers and 12 flight crew members.

Yesterday evening, Prime Minister Najib tun Razak gave a statement confirming the tragedy based on currently available evidence: “Based on UK’s new analysis, Inmarsat and the AAIB have concluded that MH370 flew along the southern corridor, and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth.  This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites. It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that, according to this new data, flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean.”

A human tragedy

People exposed to such tragedy struggle with strong emotional upheavals, and will go through certain emotional cycles and reactions before acceptance can start. These cycles were first unearthed by psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross in 1967.

The 7 Stages of Grief. Elisabeth Kübler Ross
The 7 Stages of Grief. Elisabeth Kübler Ross



















(Original Source of the Graphic)

The graphic tracks the cycle through which people go when encountering grief.  Below another table that outlines reactions that might happen during these different stages.

EKR stage Interpretation
1 – Denial Denial is a conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information, reality, etc., relating to the situation concerned. It’s a defence mechanism and perfectly natural. Some people can become locked in this stage when dealing with a traumatic change that can be ignored. Death of course is not particularly easy to avoid or evade indefinitely.
2 – Anger Anger can manifest in different ways. People dealing with emotional upset can be angry with themselves, and/or with others, especially those close to them. Knowing this helps keep detached and non-judgemental when experiencing the anger of someone who is very upset.
3 – Bargaining Traditionally the bargaining stage for people facing death can involve attempting to bargain with whatever God the person believes in. People facing less serious trauma can bargain or seek to negotiate a compromise. For example “Can we still be friends?..” when facing a break-up. Bargaining rarely provides a sustainable solution, especially if it’s a matter of life or death.
4 – Depression Also referred to as preparatory grieving. In a way it’s the dress rehearsal or the practice run for the ‘aftermath’ although this stage means different things depending on whom it involves. It’s a sort of acceptance with emotional attachment. It’s natural to feel sadness and regret, fear, uncertainty, etc. It shows that the person has at least begun to accept the reality.
5 – Acceptance Again this stage definitely varies according to the person’s situation, although broadly it is an indication that there is some emotional detachment and objectivity. People dying can enter this stage a long time before the people they leave behind, who must necessarily pass through their own individual stages of dealing with the grief.

(Based on the Grief Cycle model first published in On Death & Dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, 1969. Interpretation by Alan Chapman 2006-2013.) Source of Information.

For now, we can only hope that more information will highlight what really happened on board of MH370. Conspiracy theories have emerged already but it is up to us to decide, if we accept or reject those. But it won’t help the relatives and families of those that have lost loved ones.

More information now would help to dispel uncertainty amongst relatives and friends. They don’t need conspiracy theories but assistance to create new possibilities for closure, and I believe they need to be in the center of our attention and thoughts.



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