MH17: Malaysia comes together in sorrow

MH17: Malaysia comes together in sorrow
People hold candles during a candlelight vigil for victims of the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, in Kuala Lumpur July 19, 2014. A funeral prayer in absence of the dead will be held for Muslim victims at mosques today.

PETALING JAYA - Today's day of mourning for the MH17 victims can become a binding event that unites all Malaysians, said a psychologist.

Monash University Malaysia's consultant clinical psychologist Paul K. Jambunathan said empathy towards the victims of the MH17 crash, their families and friends would help Malaysians unite in grief.

"The Day of Mourning is a very big task. It is all about empathy. It is about the unity of a country when disaster strikes it as a whole," he said in an interview.

Jambunathan added that the media was also helpful in disseminating information, especially on situations faced by the families of the victims.

He said when people began to know the reality of the situation, they would experience strong emotions and empathise with the victims' families.

However, he said it was also normal for some people not to be deeply affected by the incident despite it being a "national tragedy".

"Some people are at the periphery of the event and they should not feel guilty if they are not deeply affected.

"Every society contains a wide range of people who will experience the event differently," he explained.

In terms of moving on from the tragedy and healing, Jambunathan said that those close to the families and friends of the victims can help by being understanding about what they are going through.

"The best thing you can do as a friend is to be there. Be there just in case anyone becomes emotionally dysfunctional or emotionally preoccupied with certain issues and they are no longer mindful of what they are doing," he said.

He added that for those who are left traumatised by the tragedy, there are ways to help them deal with the trauma.

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