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I am writing to clear up any confusion and make clear how Michael F. Dunne's family feels about his disappearance. The events of the past three weeks have been surreal. Frequently, people view this type of situation as, "It happens to other people." They never dream their family will be chosen to endure this anguish. So many emotions wash over you - fear, disbelief, hope, anticipation, just to name a few. Then, on top of dealing with all of those emotions, one has to turn on what I call "the filters."
I had to deal first with the rumors. I met rumors with skepticism. I would inform well-meaning but misguided people; unless folks were willing to share the information with the Coast Guard, then the story was not credible. I would request they inform the same to the person they heard it from and others. Next, upon the search ending, our family is still dealing with others trying to impress upon us the finality of the whole situation, i.e. prayers for "dealing with your loss"; condolences, hope you find "closure," i.e., the body, etc.
Of course, we realize that most folks do not know what to say; or do not know how to ask us how we are feeling; or assume we feel as they do (that disappearance equals bereavement). And finally, because a government agency has stopped searching, most people conclude that the next logical step is a memorial.
Please note, the Coast Guard usually spends only five days searching for missing mariners - they cannot use all their resources on just one search. For the record, including call-outs on Friday evening (Feb. 22), the Coast Guard searched six days for Mike and Vern. Our family appreciated all the organizations' and searchers' efforts.
My in-laws and I have been dealing with (but not without the support of faith, family, and friends) Mike's disappearance through conviction of a positive outcome; however, I want to point out something we have learned during these past few weeks.
People deal with events, such as this, in their own individual way. It is as unique as the individual is. Thus, the Dunne family has chosen, unequivocally, to wait and see. It is our hope, with faith and prayer, that Mike (and Vern) will be located - alive. So please do not offer us (the Dunne family) pity or condolences, instead, offer to hold Mike and his safe return, up in prayer. Most importantly, share with others (as you have with us), the many miraculous stories of disappearances and survival in Southeast.
Thanks to the many, many people who have uplifted the Dunne family during this time with their positive thoughts and prayers. It is with their support that we are able to take each day as it comes.
Victoria Canul Dunne is a resident of Ketchikan.