Robert Hanna's family deserve end to heartache
It is impossible to gauge the full anguish of the family - indeed family circle - of Robert Hanna who has not been seen since going on a kayaking trip off Islandmagee 15 weeks ago. But our interviews today with his wife and sisters gives a glimpse into their heartache.
They have accepted that he is dead, taken by the sea, but they will never be able to put this awful tragedy behind them until his body is found.
It is easy to understand their frustration that the PSNI has not been in more frequent contact, especially over the Christmas and New Year periods, which were particularly emotional times with the empty chair at the dinner table a constant reminder of their loss.
Yet the police, like everyone else, have probably little to say. For them, as with the family, it is purely a waiting game to see if the sea will give up its secret. Nevertheless it might be some comfort to the relatives if they were given regular updates on what investigations or searches have taken place.
The family's grievous loss has been compounded by the innuendo that perhaps there was some reason, other than an accident, for Robert's disappearance. To have even the slightest suggestion that it was some sort of ruse is heaping insult on top of agony as far as they are concerned.
The everyday details included in their story of the day he disappeared make for poignant reading. He had made a lasagne and left it in the oven; his youngest son was bullied on the way home from school that day and needed his dad's support; and his wallet and credit cards were found in his car.
The children have special mementos to remind them of their father - pillowcases made from his shirts and sprayed with his aftershave.
Inevitably when tragedies occur they make headlines for a short time but the world moves on and most people soon forget. But those directly involved cannot forget and, in this case, the tragedy is ongoing. The family is reconciled to the fact that Robert is dead, but every time they gaze out the window and drive along the coast they wonder where his body lies. The missing man's brother-in-law regularly travels to Scotland to search along the coastline there where Robert's kayak washed ashore. Their hope of ever finding the body is faint but not extinguished. Perhaps, as they say, this year will see it returned from the sea to a more fitting resting place.