Trauma strikes in most unsuspecting ways, catching people off-guard. As its tentacles spread their vicious grip, enveloping individuals and families, coping mechanisms begin to shatter and people are left running helter skelter in search of ways to come out of the tormenting situation. One such situation occurred on the 8th of June – that of the students being washed away in the waters released by the dam in Manali. A lot was written about the incident, the lack of systems and processes and the need for better mechanisms that would ensure that such incidents don’t happen in the first place.

But what about the families in the aftermath of such an incident?

The unexpectedness of the event has left a glaring gap for the families. With no closure in sight, they are left speechless and full of thoughts about what may have actually happened. Questions would persist in their mind till there is confirmation one way or the other about the eventual fate of their near and dear ones. Dealing with such a situation is an extremely difficult task, where one is left hanging in the air, unsure of which direction to move in. Continuing with the daily tasks of life becomes a challenge. Any situation of loss and grieving gets significantly complicated and complex when there is the additional factor of lack of preparedness. If you know someone is not well or there is the factor of age, it becomes easier to justify the loss. But when there is no logical, coherent, rational explanation or reason for the cause of the loss, moving beyond it becomes an increasingly difficult task. Our hearts go out to the families who lost their young members in the tragedy of the flooding caused by the dam. But for them, that may not be enough. What they need is strong social and emotional support, to be able to share their experience and their thoughts and feelings. It is ok if they are feeling angry. Their anguish and despair at the demise of their loved ones due to this tragedy is justifiable. As is their inability to accept the loss. The need to deny the loss yet at the same time have to accept it is possibly the biggest challenge that would be facing them today. Nothing could be worse than being in this situation where one has no sense of control or closure. Solidarity and support for the family is now the key!

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