The mum of chef Claudia Lawrence says dying without answers over her disappearance is the “cruellest pain” any parent could endure.
Joan Lawrence was speaking for the first time since Claudia’s father Peter died last month, aged 74.
Joan said: “It’s a living nightmare not knowing what’s happened to your child. No one should have to suffer that trauma. No parent should have to die without answers.”
This Thursday it will be 12 years since Claudia of Heworth, York, went missing on March 18, 2009, aged 35.
Joan fears that she too may go to her grave never finding out what happened to her daughter.
She told of her devastation when she heard Sarah Everard, 33, had gone missing in South London last week.
She said: “I cried when I heard the news about Sarah. It brought back all the memories of the weekend when Claudia went missing.
“I know exactly how her parents are feeling and the worry they will be enduring. It’s the worst possible pain.
“Sarah’s family are in my thoughts and prayer. I’m here if they need someone to help them through this difficult time.
“Sometimes just talking to someone who’s been through the same can help.”
Joan, 77, from Malton, North Yorks, told the Mirror she tries desperately to block out thoughts that she may never know the truth about what happened to Claudia.
She said: “I have to find a way to not let those terrible thoughts drown me because as soon as I start thinking like that, I will go under.
“I have to stay strong and to keep finding the courage to face each day.”
Even so, Joan cannot help some- times blaming herself for not keeping Claudia safe – even though she knows it is not her fault.
She said: “From the moment your child is born and you hold them in your arms, you just want to protect your children and to keep them safe.
“So for me it’s horrendous that I haven’t been able to do that.
“I know Claudia going missing wasn’t my fault, but I feel as though I should have known – that as a mum, I should have sensed something was wrong.
“It’s an ongoing torture knowing I wasn’t there for Claudia when she needed me the most.”
Every day Joan touches the last birthday present she bought for Claudia, a three-quarter-length black woollen winter coat that is hanging
in her wardrobe.
She said: “It feels incredibly precious but at the same time it’s a constant reminder of the fact I have no idea what has happened to Claudia.”
Claudia’s case is now being looked after by Supt Wayne Fox of North Yorkshire Police, who has met Joan twice since last summer.
But she said: “It is going to take time for me to trust the police.
“It has been 12 years since Claudia went missing, I just don’t know how they will find the answers now.
“I really hope there will be a turning point soon. I long for answers.
“I always pray that someone is keeping her safe. The not knowing is just absolute torture.”
Nine people have been questioned as part of the investigation but no charges have ever been brought.