February 3 is National Missing Persons Day. More than 2,000 go missing every day, leaving their families stricken with every emotion.
The profound void of having a missing loved one is consuming. Christy Kennedy has lived it for the past 32 years after her sister Brenda Lambert went missing in Bluewell.
“It’s been life-changing, it alters every piece of your life and it never stops,” Kennedy said. “It’s a never-ending thing; it doesn’t get better — you don’t get used to it. It gets worse as time goes on.”
According to Christy, the trauma and stress of Brenda missing led to members of her family grieving themselves to death.
“600,000 people go missing every single year and there are around 4,400 unidentified bodies that are found every single year too,” said Kennedy, who’s been searching for her sister since 1992. “I’m really hoping that everyone from the president to law enforcement can really kind of step up (whether they need funding or training or what it is) and just realize the magnitude of the problem.”
It’s been a long, hard road without community support and being able to put the correct information out there that people need to know. Christy says you have to get loud and advocate for your person.
“No matter who tells you you can’t do this or you can’t do that; you just gotta do it,” Kennedy said fight hard and often. “You gotta keep them out there to get people to realize what happened.”
Brenda’s missing persons case ties into her also being a victim of domestic violence, which many mothers fall prey to.
“That’s a big contributor to missing persons is domestic violence and that’s something else we all gotta learn about and try to put a stop to,” said Kennedy.
Don’t ignore the red flags.
“Family members — it’s their business. It’s the community’s business what’s going on with these women, especially when they disappear,” Kennedy said. “If no one has been caught then that person is still around and that puts everybody else in danger.”
She said she urgently wants to be able to find Brenda so she’s not alone anymore and can bury her sister next to their mom.
Resources out there can help, starting with the National Domestic Violence hotline
In Mercer County (where Brenda went missing) Stop Abusive Family Environments (SAFE) in Welch, WV
And Christy hopes shelters will soon change things.