A relative of passengers on the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 cries as she participates in a protest outside the Malaysian embassy in Beijing on March 25, 2014.
Grieving relatives' anguish continues
01:59 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

"It is grieving, except it's even more torturous in some ways," psychologist says

"I have no courage," wife of missing passenger says

"There's still that moment of fluctuating back and forth," TWA victim's fiancee tells CNN

CNN  — 

When TWA Flight 800 exploded off Long Island in 1996, it took more than a year to recover the bodies of all 230 passengers and crew.

After suicide hijackers destroyed the World Trade Center in 2001, it took a decade or more for investigators to identify the fragmentary remains of some of those killed. Some have never been identified.

And when the drill rig Deepwater Horizon burned and sank off Louisiana in 2010, the bodies of 11 men were never found. At a memorial service two months later, each family was presented with a bronze hardhat to represent their loss.

Now, it’s the loved ones of the 239 people aboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 who face what one expert called the “unspeakable challenge” of grieving for someone whose final resting place may never be found. They “will have to reconcile what is for most of us unimaginable,” said Ken Druck, a psychologist who specializes in aiding disaster survivors.

“They will have to somehow find a way to put their minds at peace, to let go of the idea that the body of their loved one is going to be recovered,” he said. “Or there may be bits and pieces of things that are recovered, but there is a chance that they may not. And it may not ever be enough or satisfying, and they’re going to have to find peace in some other way.”

Heidi Snow, whose fiance was killed on the TWA jet, said one of the hardest moments for her was when authorities closed the center that assisted families before the body of her fiance, Michel Breistroff, had been found.

China treads carefully amid anger and grief of relatives