Sunday, December 3, 2023

Manifesting Christmas

So many good memories live on in my heart from childhood to the moment of writing this.

I reflect on the changes.

It took a tragic loss - and other somewhat expected losses to deplete the joy of holidays, birthdays and otherwise warmly anticipated celebrations.


The hardest has definitely been Christmas.  I count some losses in my family as anticipated, having had time to adapt to expectations of the inevitable.  Painful, yet leaving us with happy joyous memories that continue to fill my heart at this time of year.  More importantly, having a place to lay flowers, pay respects and lingering awhile in memories means so much.


With gratitude for those memories and traditions we built upon and created a space of happiness for our remaining children at Christmas.  But when the fabric of your little family is torn away, revealing a gaping hole, the magic becomes harder to attain.   Every year a resounding, deafening feeling of loss lingers at the center of our universe.  Engendering the ever-present thoughts and questions - what happened? How did it happen? Did It happen? Or, has he found another life? That grim rollercoaster of not knowing is incessantly percolating.


So building upon the scaffolding of times gone by, we endeavored to re-create the ambiance of Christmas. We decorated and baked and played the part. It wasn’t the same. The heart leaden and the soul colder.


We are the ones left behind to cope with the unsolved and missing loved ones still in our hearts – every day. Missing but ever present.  Ambiguous loss. (Pauline Boss)


I live a life between memories ever defined as ‘before and after’ our wee beautiful boy vanished into the dark November night without a trace.


Valerie Nettles

Christmas #27

December 2023


Monday, November 27, 2023


 The case got cold as I got old but your still out there somewhere. 

No closer to truth than at the start.
We cannot forget you either.
So every day, near three decades now
We hope to get the answer
Birthdays came and birthdays went
All without your laughter
Heavy hearts prevail most days
For your sweet life there is no respite
But to carry a ball and chain
Seeking justice in solitude and darkness
In the gloom we are not alone
So many there like us
Lives un-lived looking for the lost
Cast adrift
And  it’s heartless. 

Thursday, November 2, 2023

Damien’s 27th missing day

We are still hopeful one day we will have some finality to Damien’s disappearance. In the meantime, this is still a dream.

The reality? We live in this world of missing persons.  We are surrounded by a fraternity of families across the globe who, like ours, wait in a quiet desperation for answers. 

Suffering ambiguous loss as they live a life not fully engaged in the present & lingering in the past.

Every opportunity for light to shine on their loved one's case brings a moment of renewed energy in the midst of flagging confusion, loss and hope. 

Val Nettles Nov 2, 2023

Ambiguous Loss

Monday, October 30, 2023

Memories fizzle & pop

 Stars shine bright in early morning light.  As ever, my mind wanders to you Damien as I ponder your fate.  There is no way to know how you left us.

Rattling through my mind, memories, pop and fizzle like an old black & white cine film.  Your life, fast forwards jerkily, faded snippets of happy times, birthdays, Christmas, and laughter.  The film fizzles, melts to the whirring of an empty reel, a life unfinished, nothing but silence now. Terrifying visions haunt quiet moments. 

I know somewhere under these stars you wait for us, alone. You know I am always looking for you and one day will find you.  Have to. But time is running out, my son.

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Touch paper

Ambiguous grief

The sensitivity of the situation has not diminished, but easier to talk about.  What used to be a trigger or touch paper moment, igniting swells of grief and emotion in the moment, are somewhat controlled. Not always.
I have learned to live in it and around it. It’s an open wound and is not healing, but the edges are less sharp. Sometimes. Tears of loss, inconsolable, quietly run amok in my heart 
and are only mine to know. #ambiguousloss #greif #missing #damiennettles #justicefordamien 

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Time to move on….

 Life, for us, stopped the moment our son vanished without trace.  We haven’t “moved on” and I can’t think how we can unless we forget he existed.  It might appear we have because we didn’t disappear.  We are still here.  Life continues its path.  But now we live two lives.  One foot in the present and one foot firmly in the past.   We are not ready to give up on his life and cast him aside. A memory of inconsequence. He deserves to be found because we don’t think he was allowed to make a choice for himself.  Was it an accident? However, no body was ever found. Or, did someone choose his fate for him? We may never know.  

We hope time will tell. Until it does, we are still living in that moment when we knew he had vanished out of character.  That awful dawning realization, that fateful knowledge, we are in this for the long haul.  


I am sure it’s meant well when it’s suggested we have to ‘move on.’ It is incomprehensible to those who haven’t been in this situation to imagine how stuck we are in this ongoing grief.  It has a name Ambiguous Loss.  There are thousands like me living this loss, desperately hoping one day to get answers.


No matter how long it’s been - it is still an open wound. We have learned to live around the emptiness of it.  But we cannot walk away and ‘move on.’

Monday, August 28, 2023


Behind a face of coping lives a deep sadness that simmers within a grief laden heart.

Tears fall, un-witnessed, into a void where hope clings and is nourished.

Hard to explain.  Physical pain.

My boy is still missing. Cast adrift.

Time and opportunity ticking by. 

Life, getting shorter.

Silence deafening, resounding.