Malasia flight 370 tragedy discussing with your children

Malaysian Flight 370: Our Hearts Go Out to the Families Who Lost Their Loved Ones

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Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak announced today that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 crashed in the southern Indian Ocean and that there are no survivors. Our hearts go out to the families of Flight 370. I am deeply saddened today. I am sure you are as well.

The other night at dinner our children asked about the flight (even our 7 year old had heard the news about the then-missing flight). They all wanted to know about it, and how such a thing can happen. My wife and I had just returned from an overseas trip and it was clear that our children were relieved. We said then that we were still praying that the passengers were all still alive (even though deep down we knew it was not very likely).

I am not a psychologist, so I am not going to attempt to recommend whether you should discuss this with your children and if you do, what you should discuss with them. Over the course of the next day or so, many talented professionals will give us parents appropriate recommendations on how to discuss this tragedy with our children. But I will tell you that in our family, aside from handling the potential fears our children will have, one focus of the conversation that we will have with our children will be taken from a CNN news article that was written before anyone knew that the plane crashed. You can read the article here; it is an important article.

I will explain to my children that although many of the news reports will be about the number of lives lost, they need to remember that these numbers represent actual people… people who loved and were loved by others. People who contributed to the world, and those around them.

As it said in the CNN article: “. . . as their families and others who love and miss them can attest through their anguish, they are so much more [than numbers]. Hailing from at least a dozen nations, they represent a vast gamut of humanity. The youngest is 2, the oldest 76. Five passengers haven’t seen their fifth birthdays. They are engineers, an artist and a stunt man, along with Buddhist pilgrims, vacationers and commuters. To those who wait for them, they are fathers, mothers, children, soulmates and the dearest of friends.”

I think this message from CNN is very important to share with our children. We are all suffering today from this tragedy. Even if Malaysia is a country very far away from us, these passengers are no different than us – they were all someone’s father and mother, or brother and sister, or child and grandchild. They were loved by their family and friends. And when they were alive, they were important to people. So we should try not to think about them as one composite number, but try to seek out information about them as individuals and remember them as individuals.

The CNN article is a good start – it gives background information of some of the passengers. Here is one you can read to them. Perhaps it might be a good idea to read about more of the passengers with them which you can get from the CNN article (and I am sure there will be plenty of other resources). Here are some quotes describing one of the passengers (please note that these quotes were included in the CNN article when people were still hoping the plane would be found and that the passengers would still be alive):

Paul Weeks

Pauls’ wife Danica described Paul as:

“the most amazing husband and the most amazing father.”

“He had strength, character.”

“He’s my best friend and my soulmate.”

Weeks’ brother said of Paul:

“He’s definitely a leader.”

“People love Paul. And in general, he’s just a wonderful man,”

Paul sounds like he was a great guy. I think all of us would love to be described as an amazing father, with strength and character, and someone’s best friend and soul mate, and a leader. These are all great characteristics and things to strive and hope for.

Please take some time today to hug your children a little tighter than usual (but of course always try to hug them tightly) And tell them that you love them, several times (of course we should tell them that several times each day). Reassure them. Think about the poor families and friends of those who lost their lives in this terrible tragedy. Think about whether there is anything that you can do to help their families.

In memory of those who lost their lives in this sad tragedy.

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