Editorial, by Clara Balestra, Sarah Oberson Foundation, 21 May 2014

This 25th of May 2014, International Missing Children's Day, let us lay down a flower in remembrance of the many missing children worldwide and in an act of solidarity for their families. These families, after having been in the limelight following the disappearance of their child, often then find themselves facing their loss alone.

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But what can you do to help? In order to support professionals working to assist them, the Sarah Oberson Foundation has set up a literary science revue on the topic, entitled At the Threshold of Grief ? Families of missing children facing uncertainty, the literary science review.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a deafening silence on the part of the academic world regarding this subject. "Research in this field remains a rarity and is often openly of an exploratory nature" (p. 31). Nevertheless, we can glean certain points of agreement.

"The research shows almost unanimously that when a child's disappearance prolongs indefinitely, the reaction of the families is characterised by an ambivalent mixture of hope and acceptance of their loss. For certain observers, this ambivalence is a necessary but dysfunctional adaptation, while others maintain that the affected families can reach a level of satisfactory wellbeing. Studies also bring to light the wide range of individual reactions to the disappearance of a child" (p. 12).

"The existence of an effective support system at the heart of the family or community seems to mitigate the negative consequences of the disappearance. The sense of purpose attributed to the disappearance surfaces as a key element in understanding the effects of their loss" (p.13).

According to Mr. Michele Poretti, author of the review, "While it's difficult, in the context of a reflection on the families of missing children, to renounce notions of loss and grievance (in fact, these notions are often used by the families themselves), it is important to free them of the prescriptive constructs imposed on them by 20th Century scientists. You must create a space where their normality can manifest. The grieving process may then be seen, according to a minimalist and open definition, as a transformation into whose outcome is altogether uncertain and unpredictable" (p. 14).

On the occasion of this 25th of May, the Sarah Oberson Foundation affirms their solidarity with the families affected and the professionals working on their behalf.

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