When a Plane Crashes in the Middle of the Ocean, We Are Left Helplessly Grieved—
May Their Souls Rest in Peace—
Two days ago, we awoke to very sad news that a French airliner, Air France 447 was missing en route to Paris from Brazil. Then not too long after that, news came in that the plane had possibly crashed in the middle of the Atlantic, that long flight between the continents. Now, it is clearer to us that those 228 passengers and crew, including eleven children have all perished. This is a sad day for everyone who loves human beings no matter where they come from.
Anne and Michael Harris, Americans living in Brazil, Perished.
Dr. Aisling Butler of Ireland, also flying on Air France
Grieving family members
There is a somber kind of hopelessness to realizing that your beautiful family or friends who took off on one of the most reliable means of travel in the world have joined a small number of crashed victims in the history of aviation. Everyone knows that flying is safer than driving, and yet each time I board an airplane, I am aware that something might happen, and I might not get off alive. What a scary thought, but let’s take a moment to think of the numerous family members, and friends who have lost so many good people.
When a plane crashes anywhere, and so much life is lost, everyone is at a loss for what to do. The living simply can stand around and mourn, try to make sense of the senselessness of the crash. Those responsible for investigating the crash examine all the theories, search for the Black Box in order to discover the last signs of trouble and communication prior to the crash. The painful thing about a plane crashing in the ocean is the feeling of the lack of closure. There are often no bodies to claim or bury, and forever, one might keep looking for closure.
Photo of young, Lucas Juca of Brazil who also went down with the plane.
Photos of grieving families at the airports both in Brazil and in Paris can be heart breaking for anyone. Families can only comfort one another.
Air France as an airliner is a familiar plane to me. Twice, I have flown my family members, including my late mother and my father-in-law on that airliner from Africa to the US. I too, have had to fly Air France and its Sister or cousin airline, Air Afrique.
But I am a skeptic about all of the instructions given to passengers during the take off. Maybe this is because I have flown way too many times or because I know about the inevitability of a crash, and that most plane crashes mean a death sentence for most passengers. So every time I hear these carefully and legally worded instructions, I wonder how fit the plane is, how sober the pilots are, whether or not they have the experience to fly the plane. I often wonder if they have had enough sleep, whether they are paid well for their difficult job, and whether the stewardesses are also trained for any kind of emergency.
Often, I simply bow and say a good prayer for myself, the pilots, the entire crew, fellow passengers, and turn my life over to God. I have stopped worrying, but I still have my wondering mind about the connection between the poor world economy and the running of safty
In my own grief for the victims of Air France crash, it is my hope that the families will find closure, will overcome their grief, will cherish the memory of their loved ones, and will move on into the future. I also hope that the families and friends will work hard to make the French and Brazalians find the Black Box. I hope the French government will not call off the search for the Black Box. Let them not quit looking for it. The Black Box will help investigators determine whether the crash was natural, human error or a terrorist attack. Planes that are equiped to fly across the globe do not just vanish out in the thin air. I hope the French will not be clumsy about quitting the search. We owe that much to the victims and their families.
Let us conclude this reflexive tribute on John Donne’s powerful poem:
Holy Sonnet X: Death Be Not Proud by John Donne
Death, be not proud, though some have callèd thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which yet thy pictures be,
Much pleasure, then from thee much more, must low
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings and desperate men
And dost with poison, war and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then ?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.
Say a prayer for these, will you? May their souls rest in perpetual peace and may their families be comforted.