How do I recover saved edits that are now missing when I open the doc

a way to tell it when a doc is done and won’t be edited anymore

LO is intended to create documents. Not using them any more is a user decision and LO has nothing to do with it (and even must not interfere with user decisions). Use the OS file browser to delete your old outdated documents. Note that this will not remove them from the recent files list. The recent files list is just some log that LO internally maintains but this does not mean at all that the listed files still exist. They may have been removed unbeknownst to LO (e.g. in the file browser).

must not interfere with user decisions
If the user tells the program that a document needs no further editing, as in my case with work orders, invoices, receipts… Which if I change once handed to the client may be fraudulent, then it is obviously my decision, and LO is not interfering (that would only be the case if I didn’t tell it to), and losing my data as appeared to have done IS interfering, and could have caused more trouble than it did. I save the docs as .pdf’s of course, and destroy the .odt’s, that way in any case of legal dispute, or audit… it not only shows I wasn’t fraudulent, but also shows I have no intent to defraud anyone or fix the books, by removing my ability to do so.

LO has everything to do with anything it does and can do for it’s users, so it would be a feature. It is an Office suite after all, right? I know how to use a file browser, and already did it, and thanks for pointing out that it lists non existent files: NOT GOOD!

I’d say that you have to implement a workflow where LO is only a step. Trying to use LO as the only tool for your job is faulty IMHO. You don’t use LO to email your documents, do you? (though LO can do it in a limited way) I prefer to use an ad-hoc tool at each step than a monster one-size-fits-all program. Such a monster would be terribly unstable and very hard to modify to keep up-to-date with evolving requirements. But YMMV.