A professor of psychology and the chair of the Women’s Studies department at St. Martin University, Dr. Sharon Taylor, talks with Dr. Gloria Horsley about father loss. Dr. Taylor’s father died at war when she was just a few months old. This was in 1945, right at the end of the war, and during this time nobody dealt with the issue of war. As a result, Dr. Taylor was raised by a grieving mother who never had a chance to mourn. She tried to move on, and everyone in the family was sad about Taylor’s father.
His body was never recovered, and he was declared MIA. A few months later, everyone who was MIA was declared as “dead” by the US military. Over her life, Dr. Taylor has met a few other people in similar positions. She’s now part of an orphaned war network, which is made up of orphans from World War II deaths. Luckily, Dr. Taylor’s grandparents talked with her about her father—but her mother did not. Her entire childhood, she wished her father would come home.
Uncertainty in Death
When there’s no funeral, is a person really dead? That’s a confusing position many children find themselves in. In the late 1990s, after Dr. Taylor’s mother and stepfather died, she began to search for her father. Using grief research, she was connected to a German researcher who specialized in fallen planes. Ultimately, she found her father’s crash site.
Finding that site brought her grief full circle. She describes it as “awesome” and was astounded that the field where her father crashed was unchanged decades later. The land owners remembered the crash and his body, which were great gifts to Dr. Taylor.