It’s five o’clock in the morning on May 26th, 2012, and John Green’s iPhone is buzzing with an incoming Facebook message.
“Hey, you might want to see this video,” it reads. “I think it’s that Luka guy you’ve been looking for.”
Still under his covers, Green clicks on the link.
A man is laying face up tied spread eagle to a bed. He is nude, with a video camera positioned between his feet. New Order‘s “True Faith” is playing. A poster for the movie Casablanca hangs above the man’s head, which is shrouded with a white cloth. And a figure in dark clothing is standing next to him. The figure leans over the man and touches his blindfold. The video cuts. The dark figure is now straddling the man.
We don’t know what happened to the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, which throws the families of the passengers of Flight 370 into a kind of painful in-between: Their loved ones aren’t here. But they’re also not certainly dead. They’re just … gone.
In the five days since the plane disappeared, these loved ones have been in anguished limbo — a state known as “ambiguous loss,” coined by psychologist and author Pauline Boss.
“That is, when somebody is missing or has vanished without a trace, and you don’t know their fate, or the whereabouts of their body, and whether they’re dead or alive,” Boss says. “So it becomes so uncanny, and strange, for the families; they’re never quite sure if the person is truly dead.”
It’s a feeling that can apply to dozens of experiences, like losing a pregnancy, or losing a family member, small pieces