Bereavement known to families of a missing person is one of unrelenting anguish. The suddenness of a person vanishing and the not knowing what has happened, disallows the finality of death. It is all the customary feelings associated with simple bereavement and it is without an ending.
Families of missing persons NEVER stop looking. Take a look locally at the case of Jennifer Cahill Shadle: The family runs a webpage, posting frequently though it’s been years since their loved one disappeared. Families of missing persons generally have bouts of depression and severe anxiety due to the open endedness of the disappearance. Without a body, they are left with possibilities, and possibilities equate to hope – but no matter how far fetched that hope may be and how much time passes: It is still hope. And hope is better than facing the alternative.
There was a lot of criticism as to how Patty Fornicola was never examined as a suspect. When people go missing, it is police policy to focus on the family members asa suspects first. Patty Fornicola was a little different, she was a legal assistant in the District Attorney’s office dating the district attorney. In no way am I suggesting that Patty Fornicola was the perpetrator of something unthinkable, what I am blatantly suggesting is Patty Fornicola knew more than what she shared with police. What I am also suggesting is that the investigating officers treated her with kid gloves, due to her boyfriend’s status and her status.
Fornicola said she thinks suicide is the least likely scenario. “Really, none of the scenarios to his disappearance make sense,” she said. “The Ray that we know could not — would not — walk away or commit suicide … if something happened to him like he lost his memory somehow, had a stroke, then he isn’t the Ray we know.” She recognizes that whatever the scenario is and whatever the future holds, her life will never be the same. –The Daily Collegian: CITATION
This quote, above, was given to the Collegian shortly after Gricar’s death, right before Gricar’s former First Assistant District Attorney, Mark Smith, took office.
Below are the NHI government psychological characteristics experienced, in general, by the families of missing persons.
- Perpetual mourning.
There is no relief for a family member of a missing person. There is no end to the story without a body, or without a resolution. Often family members resolve themselves to “finding answers”, and continue to seek answers in every way they can, long after the case has “gone cold” with law enforcement. They start charities, they run webpages, they scour the internet, they talk to media to get the word out at every opportunity, they form bonds with other families of missing persons and share information. They cannot let go of the grief because they don’t know the end of the story, and the minute possibility that the disappeared family member is alive eats at them. They hold out hope, and in conjunction with the loss, it’s a state of “perpetual mourning,” because hope when combined loss – extend the period of grief.
- Intense feelings are normal–it is the traumatic experience which is abnormal.
They are not level headed, they are hysterical and reeling from trauma. They often appear on the news overcome with emotion, looking haggard and pleading with anyone who will listen to them. They want to get the word out, and their distraught emotional state is driving their need for answers. They will plead with anyone for a resolution. Some family members of missing people remark that it would be almost better to find a body, than deal with that infinite uncertainty of not knowing.
- Inability to bring closure without presence of the body, or knowledge as to what happened.
Long after the case has “gone cold,” the obsession to know and to find out what happens to their loved ones remains hot. They experience sleepless nights, they trace and retrace the days leading up to the disappearance. They scour for leads, and re-examine old leads. It consumes their spare time, their thoughts and their emotional state. They pressure law enforcement authorities, they appear on every news outlet, they run web pages. They are obsessed with finding answers.
- Misunderstanding by ‘others’ who cannot bear to witness the anguish of persons who are dealing with traumatic loss.
They wonder how the case could “possibly have gone cold,” when the loss they are facing is so palpable routinely, day to day. They criticize law enforcement for not doing enough. They complain LOUDLY to anyone who will listen. They seek out private investigators. They feel that no one could comprehend their loss, and that the loss of their loved one is not being taken seriously by law enforcement. They reach a period of frustration. They start charity campaigns, hold annual vigils and reek with despondence and desperation. They are obsessed with finding answers.
- Lack of support from others due to the silence which oftentimes prevails when someone remains missing people don’t know what to say in these circumstances and often say nothing.
Family members of missing persons, to some extent face alienation, from their communities. Their desperate and despondent emotional states, and they are hyper-obsessed preoccupation of finding their loved one, oftentimes makes them difficult to approach. Every conversation seems to be dominated by finding answers or getting the word out, so people in their community start to avoid them. They are obsessed with finding answers.
- Intrusive recall of images and memories associated with the ‘time’ a person vanished.
They replay the days leading up the disappearance over and over again, and are in such a state of grief that they expect others around them are doing the same. They are baffled that people have moved on, that law enforcement has moved on. They call the police if they remember some small instantaneous detail, they harass the police with every bothersome detail they can think of. They question the methodology, vigilence and persistence of law enforcement, i.e. “if law enforcement was actually doing their job, they would have found John Doe.” They are obsessed with finding answers.
- Preoccupation with possibilities of what happened to the lost person. Is the person dead or alive?
The search consumes their every thought, even their life. A resolution is better than this purgatory like state of uncertainty. They want to know everything. They want to know what law enforcement is doing and not doing to find their loved one. They want to know every detail of the case. They are obsessed with finding answers.
- Survivor of a disappeared person becomes a victim.
Part of becoming a victim is feeling alienated, feeling like law enforcement isn’t doing enough, resenting the members of the community because they aren’t doing enough. They wonder why this obsession for answers doesn’t effect the rest of the community as it affected them. They wonder why people are avoiding them, and are unable to clearly conceive that their grief and despondent emotional state makes them difficult to approach. They care little about what people think about them, rather they just want to have resolutions. They are obsessed with finding answers.
- Unspoken expectations by others about how long it should take one to recover from irrevocable loss.
Alienated by uncomfortable community members, they develop in their head a timeline. Now that the police investigation has gone cold, they wonder if their grief should also have gone cold. They seek, and seek, and seek. They are on webpages. They are connecting with other missing person families. They can’t carry on a “regular” conversation, because they are distracted and consumed by the unknowns as to where their loved one is. Eventually their loved one fades from the media, and the police case grows cold, a growing feeling develops of guilt. Like they “should feel better by now” if the rest of the world is going on. Yet they can’t let go, it’s the lack of having an ending to the story, it’s the lack of knowing a resolution, and it’s that tiny piece of hope they cling to. They can’t stop looking. They are obsessed with finding answers.
A majority of families of disappeared persons report symptoms consistent with the impact of trauma and are disabled by mental illness. Many display chronic physical symptoms, presumably somatic, and attribute it to the long-term effect of the disappearance. A number of wives of missing persons face extreme stigmatization in their homes that has led to their being rejected by their in-laws, leaving voluntarily or continuing to live there in terrible conditions (Robins, 2006).
Families of missing persons often check out from the world, this goes on for years. They have a single track mind and don’t want to go to a party and discuss politics. They want to go to a party and find out what others might know or remember about their loved one. People start to avoid these people because they can’t possibly understand the obsessive preoccupation with finding the truth. They are obsessed with finding answers.
The needs include the need to know, the need to proceed with commemorative rituals, the need to receive legal and administrative, economic, psychological and psychosocial support, the need to be protected against security threats, the need to receive recognition of the suffering experienced and, for some, the need to have access to courts of law.
They don’t move the house where they lived when their loved one disappeared. They tend to keep the room of the loved one “just so.” They delay court proceedings to find the loved one legally dead. They set a place at the table for loved one in absentia. They keep his razor or toiletries or books or clothing exactly where the missing left these items. The eat, breath and sleep the loss. They come to a point where a dead body is better than the purgatory in which they exist, they want answers. They obsessively seek a resolution. They are obsessively seeking answers.
CONCLUSION: Now that I have laid out these symptoms of family members of disappeared persons, I want those of you who know Patty, Ray’s ex wives, or Ray’s daughter to tell me if these were things you saw. What I am suggesting with this article is that they know more than they are saying. I’m not suggesting foul play. What I am suggesting is secrecy. Patty Fornicola and Ray’s loved one’s quickly faded from the press after his disappearance. At first they were desperate, it was clinical textbook case behavior of a family of missing person. The behavior becomes unusual when they disappeared from the press, and seemingly seamlessly re-entered the community unscathed without these textbook emotional hang-ups.
What I am suggesting is that Ray Gricar is alive, and got clandestine word to his family to stop the unknown obsessive search for answers, which is why they faded from view – exhibiting quite untypical behavior as a family of a missing/disappeared person.
What do you know? What does Gricar’s family know that made them disappear from the search so quickly?