The families of the people who died when Continental Airlines Flight 3407 crashed Thursday night are most likely searching for immediate answers and experiencing the first stages of the cycle of grief, said Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and FOX News Channel contributor.
Flight 3407, a commuter plane coming in for a landing in Buffalo, N.Y., crashed into a house around 10:30 p.m. Thursday, killing all 49 people on board and one person inside the house.
Ablow said a therapist or grief counselor should speak with family members in a quiet place so that they can ask questions.
“They will want to know whether there was suffering involved, they will be searching for answers, and they will need answers,” Ablow said. “The counselors will need to sit with them – and this is very important – ask them what they are thinking.”
In times of trauma, people who are grieving will reach out to counselors, even if they are strangers, for human solace, Ablow said.
Ablow said the family members or friends of those who died may also be thinking thoughts like:
— “I shouldn’t have encouraged them to travel;”
— “I didn’t get to say goodbye;”
— “I should have had them travel next week.”
He said counselors and therapists need to explain to those people proactively that the plane crash was inexplicable and tragic.
“I think there is a cycle of grief,” Ablow said. “I think it begins with the numb witnessing of life experiences, and moves with people being able to move from their losses and goes to being able to go about your daily living and helping those around you – including children who may have suffered a loss.
"At that point, you are able to honor those you lost, but you can still be blindsided by intense feelings, like guilt and anger.”