Letting go of horror and grief
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.
Conspiracy theories of all sorts are already flying about the Wild Blue Yonder, and indignant netizens are suggesting all sorts of punishment for those responsible.
Some theories are more believable than others, but sadly, most revolve around plots of political power and gain and a total disregard for human lives. In this case, it is the lives of the 239 people on board that plane, including the chief suspect.
Many years ago, as I pondered the puzzle of the age of violent turbulence that shook China in the ’60s and ’70s, my husband had told me that the Chinese lived in a culture of no regrets.
It is how this country has survived suffering and hardship, he said, and it is how the people have been molded into a resilient mass that is hard to put down.
I agree about the resilience, but I also see the scabs and scars. Burying the wound and allowing it to fester destroys the spirit and sears the soul. It also warps humanity.
We have to learn to grieve fully, and after the sorrow is spent, we have to learn to let go.
There was a recent report on a proposal for China to formally commemorate theNanjingMassacre and theWar of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1937-45). My first reaction was incomprehension.
Why would a country want to relive such pain and suffering, and with annual reminders? Later, it dawned on me that perhaps this is how the chapters are finally being closed.
Perhaps, too, the serials that are aired on Chinese television can finally find newcontent and inspiration, and the producers will no longer have to rack their brains on how to find a newangle on yet another wartime drama.
The world is closing in on us and the global city is forcing us into uncomfortably close proximity with all our neighbors.
We have to deal with getting along with each other, and we have to learn to deal with the fallout of another country’s political problems, especially if the fallout involves our own sons and daughters.
Let grief and anger reign, then, but after the emotions are spent, let us move forward, sadder but wiser. Contact the writer at email@example.com.