Experts: Circumstances in Ringer case might make closure more elusive for family, friends

With the question, "Where is Jo Ringer?" finally answered, family and loved ones might finally have a glimpse of the closure they've sought for the past year.

But because of the circumstances surrounding her death, achieving that closure might take longer than expected, and some might not fully achieve it at all, experts say.

In general, people who experience the loss of a loved one through violence have a longer, more difficult grieving process to get through, and might not ever fully heal.

"This is something you can move past, but never get over," said Louisa Weeden, a Pittsfield psychotherapist.

Joanne "Jo" Ringer of Clarksburg had been missing since March 2, 2017. Human remains discovered in a wooded area of Hatfield this week have been confirmed to be those of Ringer.

In missing persons cases, specifically, Weeden said, there is a great deal of anxiety and uncertainty when a loved one's whereabouts are unknown.

"That ambiguity of not knowing is extremely difficult to bear on a day-to-day basis," she said.

The anxiety in such cases is often tempered with hope, however slight, that someone missing will be found alive, having been lost or abducted, but will be found and returned home.

"They have hope until the body is found," she said.

Once a missing person's fate is learned in such a manner, the anxiety often turns to anger, but that also is the beginning of the process of accepting what happened.

"You can really begin the grief process wholeheartedly at that point," Weeden said. But in these situations, she noted, it's a complex process because of a lot of anger mixed in with the sadness.

"Life can resume, but there will always be triggers; there's always going to be reminders; there's always going to be thoughts; there's always going to be people, places and things that reactivate the wound," Weeden said. "It's not ever done."

When a parent in their 80s dies, for example, she said, there will be grieving and sadness for six months to a year, but in cases where someone dies violently before their time "there's so much shock and dismay and so much rage that such a thing could happen that it is much more prolonged."

"I don't think anyone really gets over it," she said. "It's tragic."

Bob Dunn can be reached at, at @BobDunn413 on Twitter and 413-496-6249.


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