Chandrakumari whips out her smart phone and prods it sharply with one finger. She wants to display the website that says Sri Lankan Tamil girls are being held as sex slaves in Dubai, unable to communicate with the outside world.

After seeing her photograph in Maithripala Sirisena’s 2015 presidential election pamphlet, Jayawanitha is convinced that her daughter is being held in some army camp.

Pallavinathan has vowed not to shave his straggly white beard until his son comes home.

These are just three stories of thousands mothers, fathers, wives, brothers and sisters suffering from the phenomenon of ambiguous loss, unable to accept the loss of their relatives, stuck in frozen grief and continuous suffering. Ambiguous loss is the most stressful type of loss because there is no proof to bring about closure – a story with no ending where they cannot mourn, honour the lost person or have funeral rites.

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