When someone you care about goes missing

“Is Adam* really missing?”

That was the text I received from my sister asking if a family member, who lived in the same house with me, was missing.

I cluelessly replied, “Don’t think so…

Is that Facebook stuff a joke then?

As someone who has tried to slowly detach herself from social media by unfollowing everyone on Facebook, I did not know what my sister was talking about. As I was walking through the hallway of an old hospital building back to my office, I quickly logged into Facebook and went straight to Adam’s Facebook. And there I saw it…

It was a flyer of four missing guys who hadn’t been heard from in a week. And Adam was one of them.

Initially, I wasn’t sure how to feel. It didn’t feel real quite yet. It wasn’t until about 1 hour later that my heart started to race and my mind started to drift and reality started to sink in. I couldn’t concentrate at work. I kept thinking about Adam…

Is he okay? 
Is he really missing? 
Maybe he’s just in the woods and doesn’t have service. 
Maybe they decided to take a mini-trip somewhere and will be back tomorrow. 
I’m sure he’s okay…
But wait, what if he’s hurt? 
What if he’s in pain? 
What if he’s in trouble? 
Why am I sitting here in the comfort of my office when my own family member is in trouble? 
What if he needs my help?
No, I’m sure he’s safe and is just goofing around.
He’ll be back soon.
I’m worrying for nothing.

My mind raced and my thoughts were hard to control. It wasn’t until I drove home from work that same day that I knew this was affecting me more than I expected it would. I noticed I was more distracted when I was driving. I had a couple near-misses of hitting other cars because I was thinking about Adam and had a lot of anxiety.

The part that surprised me the most was that I’m not even close to Adam. As someone who is not close to him, why was this affecting me so much? Why did I feel a shortness of breath? Why did my chest feel tight? I realized because at the end of the day, he is my family and my blood. I lived in the same house as Adam for the past year and hardly ever even talked to him. But that didn’t matter because he’s family and I cared that he was gone.

Flash forward 3 1/2 weeks later to today and no one has still heard from him or any of the three guys he was with.

I want to help Adam, I really do. But what can I do? We don’t know where he is. He could be anywhere… There’s a huge guilt hanging over me that I’m not doing enough. I could go to the area he was last known to be at this weekend but plane tickets are $400+, not to mention I have to pay for ground transportation and a place to stay. I have plans this weekend of volunteering, a close friend’s going away party, a meeting and a work event… all things I can get out of if I really needed to, of course. Am I being a hypocrite for saying I want to find him and bring him back, yet I don’t want to scrounge up the money (that I don’t have) for the airfare and would rather not have to cancel all my plans and tell my boss that I can’t go to this work event? I can’t help but feel like a terrible person for not doing what I can to help bring Adam home.

This is the hardest part of dealing with a missing persons case. You don’t know how to feel. You don’t know if what you’re doing is right. You don’t know if what you’re doing is enough. You don’t know if what you’re doing is even necessary. You just don’t know. You don’t know anything. And that’s the hardest part.

*Name has been changed.