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Emotions changes of Family Members of MH370 and Ferry Disaster In Korea

Emotions changes of Family Members of MH370 and Ferry Disaster In Korea

“My son is still alive! No way! No way!” A 70-year old lady told the press while crying. Her eyes were filled with unshed tears. The weather changed abruptly, strong winds started howling, dark clouds blanketed the whole sky, all these were followed by a heavy torrential downpour, as if Mother Nature had joined the sombre gathering to bid the innocent boy goodbye. Even, I watched the whole scenario from YouTube, the sadness that filled me was overwhelming and my vision was blurred by the tears that flowed like rain down my face.

Life and Interconnectedness 

Life is full of uncertainty. The current world is just a temporary space for us to proceed to next world. According to principle of oneness, human is always interconnectedness in different time and space with anything in the universe. The interconnectedness between human creates the fundamental of human relationship.  The relationship comprises of care, love, compassionate and other positive wave and energy that creates social emotional relationship. However, when there is a drastic crisis in life such as “Missing of MH370”, it gives a real pain when the interconnectedness between human was seemed disconnected.

Emotion changes

The word  “DELAY” was shown at the arrival hall for MH370 was accepted as normal. When uncertainty messages were delivered by employees of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), anxiety haunted the family members. During the first day, the emotion mix between anxiety and hope. The family members were like a cat on hot bricks. Everyone had their heart in their mouth when they were waiting for the announcement and press release of MH 370.

Emotion changes

The family mind was entirely engulfed by deep fear as the news and updates did not provide constructive findings. Butterflies seemed to be flying randomly all around in their stomach.  Everyone emotion was greatly disturbed by consternation, concern and deep fear. A lot of images, assumptions and hypothesis were created by various sources created more confusion to family members.

In the helpless, emotional and mentally weak situation, the family members start to seek any sources of information as the guidance regardless the trustfulness and reliability of the sources. In addition, they are feed with various sources of information such as Face book, YouTube, News, Twitter and other internet sources. Level of emotion involvement rises when inconsistency information provided by various sources.

Denial and Isolation

The first reaction to learning of missing of MH370 is to deny the reality of the situation. In this stage family try to rationalize overwhelming emotions. The defense mechanism buffers the immediate shock. During this stage, everyone is still praying and hope for the safety of the passenger of MH370. Everyone blocks out the words and hide from the facts. This is a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain. As the results, Malaysia Airlines try to minimize the reports or unreliable announcement. All information needs to be verified the validity and reliability so that they do not provide any misleading information to family members. In fact, the more information the family members are obtained, the level of anxiety and depression increases. Reactions to such crisis vary considerably from person to person. Symptoms and reaction times are different for each individual. As the result, different family reacts to missing of MH370 differently.


The emotions of family members shift from denial and isolation to anger when the reality and its pain re-emerge.

“Why Malaysia Airlines does not want to disclose the fact! What are they trying to hide?”. Anger deflects our vulnerable core, redirected and expression of emotions. Malaysia Airlines and Malaysia government become the aim and reflection of anger. At the same time, anger may be directed at the passenger.

Anger and Disappointment

In the inner heart, the family could have come into their mind, “I have told you not to follow the trip. Why you do not want to listen to my advice?” or even, “I have asked you to come back earlier, you should not stay for another extra days?!” Rationally, the family knows the passenger is not to be blamed. Emotionally, however, they may resent the person for causing us pain or for leaving us. After a deep reflection, the family member would feel guilty for being angry, and this makes us more and more angry.

As the result, Malaysia Airline and Malaysia government who were unable to search for the missing flight a convenient target.  Everyone inclusive the family, government and also the citizen who are linked directly and indirectly feel sad. The concept of connectedness is the fundamental that influences everyone emotions.

Malaysia airline has taken several initiatives to comfort the family members by giving them extra time or to explain just once more the details of the latest development of MH370. The department is taking all initiative to provide answers to the family members the latest information and latest development of the investigation.


During the next stage, the family member undergoes the normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control.

A wife might think (towards her husband), “If only you had safely reached home, I would take care of you better”.

A son might think (towards his parents), “If only you are back, I would spend more time to accompany you”.

A boss might think (towards his employees), “If only you come back, I would double up your salary”.

Secretly, we may make a deal with God or our higher power in an attempt to postpone the inevitable. People around the world started to pray for MH370 regardless the ethics and religion. Everyone hope they could come back home safely. This is a weaker line of defense to protect us from the painful reality.



During the next stage, family member undergo depressions in two extend. First, they had depression because of loss of family member. Their emotion is the mixture of sadness and the regret predominates. Some parents started to worry their financial support without their child. This phase may be eased by simple clarification and reassurance. I believe that with insurance coverage and financial assistance, they could overcome this emotion. However, family member undergoes the second type of depression is more subtle and, in a sense, perhaps more private. It is our quiet preparation to separate and to bid our loved one farewell. Sometimes all we really need is a hug.


Death is difficult to be accepted. Sudden death is far beyond our anger or denial. During this stage, family members start to search for calm and withdrawal. The acceptance is not necessarily a mark of bravery to resist the inevitable and to deny ourselves the opportunity to make our peace.

Family members and the loved ones that were onboard, MH 370 appeared to go through a final period of withdrawal. Their behaviour involves that it is natural to reach a stage at which social interaction is limited. The dignity and grace shown by our dying loved ones may well be their last gift to their family members.


Unacceptable Affection and Cognition of Missing of MH370 Ferry Disaster In Korea

After understanding the emotional changes of family member of MH 370, some of us might doubt why some of the family members have difficulties of acceptance? There are several reasons that explain this phenomenon.

Theory of Planned Behaviour is best to describe the rejection of the acceptance of MH 370. Family members of passenger MH 370 have negative attitudes towards accepting the death of their immediate family. Their attitudes are influenced by the peers and social environment especially social media that create the negative perceived norms that create negative impact that leads to rejection of the acceptance of death of immediate family members.

Similarly, the family rejects to accept the death of family members that could be explained through ABC Model of Attitude. The affection refers to the psychological indicators about feeling the death of the family members. The family members do not able to accept due to the following reasons

  • Death without any evidence – the family member couldn’t accept the fact until the flight was found. They stay at the denial stage
  • Inconsistence information provided by the media and the press release of the Malaysia Airlines and Malaysia government. This directly creates the cognition which the attitude scales of their belief.
  • Avoidance and helplessness – the family does not know how to accept the reality and they tried to hide themselves in the closet hoping that to get attention and help. Unfortunately, they do not know and they do not understand how to make them to feel better.
  • Depression – some families undergo depression and they feel that they are caught up in a vicious circle from which there seems to be no escape. When they are depressed. They affect the body, feelings, thoughts and behaviour.
  • Overwhelming of anger – the feeling of hates and obdurate to accept reality. Even the family members understand the current situation, they just would like to blame someone over a scenario.

All these are shown through the behavioural intentions where the family continues to seek for clarification. It does not show they do not accept the fact of death but the behavioural intention gears them to rejection and continues to fight to the answers!

Throughout a person’s lifetime, he or she may return to some of the earlier stages of grief, such as depression or anger. Because there are no rules or time limit to the grieving process, each individual’s healing process will be different.


Dr. Leow Chee Seng
Council Member

The next article focuses on helping the family to walk through the grief.

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