MH370: They will only grieve once there is proof that the plane crashed

MH370: They will only grieve once there is proof that the plane crashed
Selamat Omar (left), father of flight engineer Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat who was on board the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, and his family members recite a prayer at the hotel where he and other relatives of passengers of the airplane are staying at in Putrajaya March 25, 2014.

PUTRAJAYA - Families of Flight MH370 passengers are still holding on to hope that their loved ones are safe, saying they will only grieve once there was concrete proof that the plane crashed.

Selamat Omar, 60, said he still believed his son, aviation engineer Mohamad Khairul Amri, was alive with the rest of the passengers and crew of the Boeing 777-200 "somewhere in the world".

Referring to the announcement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Selamat commented: "He said 'ended' (in the southern Indian Ocean). He never said 'crashed'."

"People are offering me condolences but no one has given me any evidence.

"Until there is evidence to suggest that my son is dead, I am not going to abandon him," Selamat said, and appealed to the media and public not to eulogise the passengers and crew until there was proof that they perished.

Mohamad Sahril Shaari, whose cousin Ahmad Razahan Zamani was aboard the plane with his wife Norliakmar Hamid on their way to their honeymoon in Beijing, said: "I hope the authorities can provide us with evidence.

"It took them (two) years to find the (wreckage of the) French plane (which went down in the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil in June 2009) so I'm prepared to wait that long as well."

Counsellors at the Everly Hotel, where nine families of passengers are staying, said the ambiguity of the case now was proving a challenge for them to provide comfort to the next of kin.

"They are trying to understand what was meant by the word 'ended'. They are grieving with ambiguous loss.

"While it is good that the (Prime Minister's) statement had answered 20 per cent to 30 per cent of their questions, they are still bothered.

Some are choosing to wait before allowing themselves to grieve," said Public Service Department Psychology Manage­ment Division director Dr Abd Halim Mohd Hussin.

Perdana University Graduate School of Medicine Assoc Prof of Psychiatry Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said it was the lack of evidence and the extraordinary circumstances that were keeping the next of kin from properly experiencing the four stages of grief.

"In the typical grieving process, one must go through shock and disbelief first, to profound sadness to anger and slowly acceptance, as steps for them to heal from such tragedy.

"Unfortunately, these people may not be able to move on to the next phases and are stuck in denial or profound sadness or anger because this is a unique situation, with the lack of evidence only exacerbating their emotions," he said.

Dr Andrew said it would be hard for the families to return to normalcy, and the public could play a role by offering well wishes and support.

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