I saw the tailend of this segment this morning. In between trying to wake up with my second cup of coffee and realising that the new school tights for my girl were navy instead of black. It was one of those mornings. The segment asked whether or not it was too soon to put pen to paper about the details of the Malaysian flight that vanished just a little more than 10 weeks ago. The people on board are still unaccounted for. Their details in a perpetual state of limbo akin to what the families would be feeling.

The last 5 months of my PhD are like existing in a fog. Words go round and around my head trying to work out how to honour the stories of hope that everyday Australian families, who have someone missing, shared with me. Each day we see images of missing people splashed across our screens – both the pictorial reminders of who is lost as well as the anguish of the families waiting for news. Sheila and Peter were on the news last night – a family I know from a long time ago. Their Sarah has been gone for decades but still they wait, and hope and wait.sarahmc

The issue that I notice time and time again in the media and the people who speculate is this idea that we need to assign time to concepts of hope. The same story expressed by people who find that once their bereavement leave is over that workplaces suggest they are ready to get back to the normalness – a story that isnt correct or fair. From my research and from my hours spent sitting and listening to families of missing people the idea of giving up hope without news to confirm you need to, is untrue. Hope is entwined in multiple spaces when a loved one is missing – it is attached the physical search for the person, the relational bond that is now absent and the individuals own hope for the future – for some clues as to how they might manage this life of perpetual unknowns. The hope for answers isn’t as simple as finding them it runs deeper.

When someone vanishes the persons sense of worldview shifts – they see the world in new colours. Ones that remind them that in life we cant always find answers to our questions.

Deciding what is too soon is not for us in the community to decide, it is for the people living these stories to engage with. Hope isnt a probability it is a possibility – it is an innate value that we are born with. Simply finding the plane isnt the beginning and end of hope – the people who are lost, the lives they lead, the ideas for the future and the rituals not afforded to those who havent been found become lost as well.

Thats just my thoughts.

(I’ve talked a few times about this flight – here and here)

Join the conversation! 5 Comments

  1. The gift of you and your words to the world must never be underestimated. D xx

  2. You’ve taught me so much about sensitivity and loss. I lost my mum 19 years ago yet when I talk about it with others I feel I have to down play it because it happened so long ago. Even writing “down play” when it ‘s about the loss of a loved one is so wrong. The correlation between loss and time is a deeply personal one.

  3. Hi Sarah
    Your words are so spot on about hope and time. We’ve just passed the 22nd anniversary of Quentin’s disappearance and I wrote some words for myself along similar lines to yours. Yes 22 years is a hell of a long time to keep alive that sense of hope whilst accepting that the reality, the answers if they ever come may not be what I’m hoping for.
    Before this seismic event in my life I never realised that HOPE is such a complex and absolutely crucial emotion or mental process – without hope we are depressed beyond words.
    Thanks Sarah
    Sarah xxx


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