All too frequently, the evening news will highlight a missing child, teen or young adult. Missing persons are so prevalent in this country, that ABC has recently launched a new series called Missing. It stars Ashley Judd who plays a kick-ass mom, searching for her missing son in Europe.
Although missing people are unfortunately an everyday occurrence, the tragic reality hits home when it happens to someone you know. When I learned that Terry Ronhock’s daughter had gone missing, I just couldn’t fathom what Terry must be going through. Terry was the sweet, soft spoken Kindergarten teacher that I had taught with for 5 years, at a school located on Cape Cod. I taught first grade beside her and admired her love for teaching, her caring and nurturing nature and her strong, unbreakable spirit. Learning about Terry’s situation made me cringe. I had to wonder how it was possible that Terry or any parent of a missing child functions day to day and manages to cope. (To read Terry’s story, click Navaho Times).
In June of 2009, Susan Donaldson James wrote an article for ABC News on this very topic. In her article, Missing Child: Nightmare That Never Ends, she wrote:
“Parents of missing children say that the pain is excruciating, and psychologists confirm that the loss can be even greater than when a child dies.” In her article she states that siblings of the missing person suffer equally.
Sheila L. Stephen wrote an informative article, The Missing or Abducted Child, in which she discusses the Amber Alert and shares a missing child timeline. The article provides excellent advice on what parents should do after they first learn that their child or adolescent has gone missing. (To read more…)
There are several organizations offering support to families of missing children. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) is one of them. It’s a nonprofit organization, located in Alexandria, Virginia, and provides information and resources to law enforcement, parents, children and other professionals. It has a 24-hour hot line, a Cyber-Tip-Line, training opportunities, links to education and news, and other important support.
Team Hope is another organization providing support and resources to families. What makes this group special is that Team HOPE matches families with experienced and trained volunteers, who are often family members with children missing or who have been sexually exploited. The volunteers have first-hand experience in living the nightmare of having a child missing. Who better to offer emotional support?
In Terry’s case, time ran out. No organization would be able to help her now. She received bad news this week: Her 21-year-old daughter’s body was discovered by hikers at the bottom of a ravine in Arizona. Authorities are not sure what caused the accident. The Cape Cod Times article reported Terry saying “She’s in a good place now. Wherever she is, God is taking care of her.” This sounds very much like Terry; always finding the positive in something painful and unfair.
I plan on attending Terry’s daughter’s wake, but what will I say to Terry and her family? For that matter, what does anyone say to a parent who has experienced this type of loss or is living the nightmare of missing a child?
Words will not be enough but my prayers go out to Terry and her family, and all families who have suffered through the reality of not knowing where their child is.