I have a question. Why are there things we have no word for, things that really clearly exist? We have words for things which might or might not exist (ghosts, angels, Higgs bosons), and for things which don't exist (unicorns, July sunshine). But then there are big things that are unnameable.
We have a word for a widow and a widower, a word for an orphan, but no word for a parent who has lost their child. Why? Is it because this state is so awful, too awful to contemplate, that we daren't have a word for it? I feel anxious even asking the question. In medieval France, people didn't use the word 'bear' - they said 'bruin' (the brown one). If they spoke the bear's name, they feared, it would seem as if they were calling him and he would come.
I knew a novelist once who wanted to write about a paraplegic character. He went to a specialist in wheelchairs and other equipment his character might have used (this was before the days of the web) and they gave him lots of brochures. He threw them all away before he got home. He didn't dare to carry them, as if they were some kind of 'eat me' label inviting disasters to see him as fair game. It's not the same as not having a word for things, but perhaps it's related.
Or maybe there is a word and I just don't know it. Do other languages have a word for this terrible state?
No words. I have no words for the couple whose fate prompted this post, for the incident which has touched my family too closely and them with such devastation. I am a writer - I am supposed to have words. But they are inadequate to express the grief and horror of what has happened. Similarly, there are never good enough words to describe love, or sex, or terror, or pain, or bliss. I don't mean literary expression here, but words you can say to someone in normal discourse. I will try - they won't be good enough. Words fail me. Words fail all of us, though, if we don't even have a word.