Letting go of horror and grief

By Pauline D.Loh ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-03-28 09:08:37

It had been a search that had gripped the world and hogged the headlines, but almost 20 days later, the fear and trepidation finally came to an abrupt end. Hope was brutally killed off with a terse statement that offered no closure.

For the families and friends of the passengers on the ill-fated flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, agony was renewed when they were told their loved ones were never coming back, but were lost on a flight that "ended in the southern Indian Ocean".

The blame and shame quickly started with the families' grief turning to anger, and with various NGOs calling for the boycott of both the airline and its parent country.

From this day on, March 8 will be remembered in China as more than Women's Day, it will also become a memorial for the 154 Chinese passengers on board that missing jet.

For the families, especially, it will be an extremely difficult journey forward. Not knowing where their loved ones lie, and not having hard proof that they are really dead complicates the closure we all need.

In Chinese culture, the dead are honored and respected, and during Qingming, the Bright and Clear Festival, graves are visited and swept - in rites and rituals that allow the living to exorcise their sorrow, and face the freedom to move forward.

Qingming arrives next week, and for the families of the 154 passengers, there will be no graves to sweep.

They may have to wait months, or even years, before international search teams find any evidence, if any at all, that the plane really is at the bottom of that ocean.

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