Missing MH370: Shock and disbelief

Missing MH370: Shock and disbelief

First, disbelief. It can't be true. Not again. My editor had sent a message about the MAS Flight MH370's disappearance on Saturday morning.

If it was true, a whole chain of events will follow, as it did in 1997 with MI185.

My father was on that SilkAir flight.

It was on its way from Jakarta to Singapore when it plunged into the Musi River near Palembang, Indonesia. There were no survivors.

The sudden shock, loss and the helplessness of not knowing anything is something the families of passengers of MH370 would be going through now.

Having been through that with my family, I can say that it is something I wish no one would ever have to feel.

The first time you hear the news. The anxious wait for updates about my dad.

Rushing to the airport and the site in Palembang.

And more waiting - for news, for confirmation, for hope.

I was only six then.

But I know what the family members of passengers on board MH370 are going through.

The MAS plane has been missing for three days with no sign of wreckage or any inkling as to what might have happened.

The families are probably still in disbelief.

Disbelief - or a refusal to accept the truth - that was how I felt even after they found the MI185 wreckage and even after they found my father's passport among the crash debris. And even after years of living with his absence.

I held on to the childish hope that my father is still "lost". That perhaps he has settled in the jungle with a lost tribe, and is desperately finding his way back to us.

Today, 16 years later, I understand that my father will never return.

The truth is that time cannot fully heal such wounds. The grief subsides, but the pain and loss linger.

For the families of those on the MH370, whatever the findings, it is not going to be easy.

I don't even dare to speak of the "stages of grief" that they will go through, because I myself am not fully done grieving.

I remember my father for the great man he was, and try not to think of the great man he could still be today.

For the families of passengers of MH370, you are not alone.

tantam@sph.com.sg


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