When news broke earlier this month about the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370, news outlets all began formulating various theories on what could have happened. If you are like me, you probably expected the powerful and all-knowing world governments to resolve this mystery quickly, freeing us to switch our TVs back to The Voice or Dancing with the Stars. Yet here we are, several weeks after the first reports, and the plane is still missing. The number of theories is growing – as is the search perimeter. The incident is becoming eerily similar to ABC’s Lost series; seeming more fiction than fact. For how, with all of the technology at our fingertips today, does an airplane disappear?
Well, I know nothing about aviation or altitudes or stolen passports. I do, however, know a thing or two about loss. What the events surrounding flight 370 has me thinking about more and more are all of the families stuck in limbo and holding on to hope that maybe somewhere, the passengers of flight 370 are safe.
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross gave us the stages of grief in 1969, and since that time, research has shown that grieving is far more complicated than merely working through denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. While these are all pieces of the grieving process that one may experience, not everyone experiences all of them, and acceptance is hardly the final word. Today, most people who study grief believe that the survivor doesn’t need to accept the loss and move on, but rather create a new way of relating to those who are no longer with us.
Still, the basis for beginning the grief process usually starts with concrete and factual loss. For the families of passengers on flight 370, the grief process may be on hold until theories about what happened to the plane become truths about what happened to the plane.
Though the mystery can be exciting and sometimes addicting, I hope, for the sake of the families, that the facts are found soon. I am sure most are expecting the worst, but the unknown gives enough hope to perhaps delay, and for sure complicate, the grief process. And as those of us who are not personally affected follow the story, we all share in hope for some miraculous outcome. In the end, though, the concern for those who knew and loved the passengers must trump the excitement of the mystery. We must all hope that soon, theories will become truths, and processing and healing can begin.