For the second time this year Malaysia Airlines is the subject of headline news, as a commercial flight from Amsterdam to Malaysia was shot down, killing all 298 people on board. This means not only did nearly 300 people lose their lives, but also the parents, spouses, children and best friends of 298 people are all left to somehow cope with this sudden devastation.
News stories and headlines surround us daily, focusing on the lives lost in this tragic event; but what about those who are left picking up the pieces? Tragedies have a wide reach. With every life lost, there are dozens more affected.
Intense feelings of shock, anger, guilt and disbelief can shake our foundations. The traumatic death of a loved one can complicate the already difficult grieving process and can trigger mental health illnesses, even in someone with no history of psychiatric disorders. Disbelief during the first part of bereavement is a natural response. It is our body’s natural way of safeguarding us from feeling the loss all at once. However, when grief refuses to subside and the pain, depression and anxiety last for months, seeking professional help may be necessary. After a trauma, the risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and substance abuse rises substantially.
Every loss is distinct and creates a grieving process that is unique to each individual. Traumatic loss creates extra stressors on the body as survivors struggle to understand this tragedy. Family members, friends and even strangers are left feeling vulnerable and unnerved.