No body means no end in sight to grief of parents who lost son and his girlfriend on Flight 17

Seven weeks after Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was blown out of the sky above Ukraine, Bryce Fredriksz and Daisy Oehlers' bedroom is still a mess.

The room, with its mural of palm trees, unmade bed and a table cluttered with clothes and books, is a constant reminder to Bryce's parents Silene and Rob Fredriksz of the unbearable loss of their 23-year-old son and his 20-year-old girlfriend.

"I cleaned it last week, but the mess is staying there as it is," Silene says. The room, Rob says, still "breathes" Bryce and Daisy.

Memories and those reminders are all they have.

Experts working to identify remains found at the crash scene have still found no trace of the young couple, who were heading to a vacation in Bali to help Daisy get over the death this year of her mother.

There are still more than 100 families living in a similar limbo. Only 193 of the 298 passengers and crew on board the plane when it was shot down July 17 have been positively identified, according to the last count released by Dutch officials. Dutch investigators may go some way to confirming what happened to the flight when they publish a preliminary report into the disaster on Tuesday, though they won't apportion blame.

The plane was shot down above an area held by pro-Russian separatists. Attempts to recover bodies were called off Aug. 6 due to fighting between rebels and Ukrainian forces nearby.

As days and weeks have passed, whatever hope Silene and Rob had clung to in the aftermath of the disaster has ebbed away.

"In the beginning we were hoping to get complete bodies, but that hope is gone," Silene says. "My hope is that we get body parts from both of them not just from one. I'd rather have none than only from one."

Time is not healing the parents' wounds, especially with no closure.

"I still can't accept what happened," Silene says. "The grief, the pain, the tears are more, bigger, than in the beginning."

Rob is retired. Silene, a management assistant, has not been back to work since their son and his girlfriend were killed.

Friends and family drop by regularly to their row house on the outskirts of Rotterdam. Sometimes they can laugh when talking about their feelings, but grief is never far away.

"In the morning you wake up, stand up, and then the tears come. First thing in the morning I cry," Silene says, tears welling.

An issue that looms large for all is what will become of the wreckage — and any remains — still at the crash site in eastern Ukraine.

"There are still belongings from all the passengers in the fields," Silene says. "We think there still might be body parts because they haven't searched everywhere yet. And who is to blame? That is the question."

Silene says she and Rob want to visit the crash site when it is deemed safe enough. Right now, that's as close as they have to visiting Bryce and Daisy's final resting place.

"If we have a complete body it's different. But we will not have a complete body so there will be body parts still left in Ukrainian fields. So that's their grave."

Silene wonders if even that kind of contact — were she ever to get it — would help.

Not having their bodies "makes it maybe a bit more difficult," she says. "But I don't think I would be any less unhappy if I had their bodies."

Other families have gotten an element of closure with the return of the bodies of loved ones.

The family of two brothers, Miguel Panduwinata, 11, and Shaka Panduwinata, 19, who also were on their way to a holiday in Bali on board Flight 17, received their remains this week.

The brothers, whose bodies were identified about 10 days after the crash, were cremated last week and the family held a wake in their honor.

Shaka and Miguel's family were able to see the boys' coffins, touch their bodies and place some of their favorite belongings inside their caskets.

The corpses were wrapped "so you can't see the remains, but you can touch them and feel them," Harun says. He says the boys' mother Samira and their 16-year old brother Mika and grandmother Yasmine all felt that was important. "Hugging them ... that gave them some closure. It gave some relief."

"It sounds bizarre, but in the big scheme of things, we're very grateful that the bodies were, mostly, intact," says the boys' uncle, Harun Calehr. "And that they were recovered. I mean, there are so many families that are still waiting in vain."


Sterling reported from Almere, Netherlands.