Your health and welLBEING

Families and friends of missing people often report common feelings of fear, anger, guilt, blame, frustration, sorrow, grief and isolation. While you may not experience all these reactions, it may help to know that they are normal responses to the events you are experiencing.


The following information offers some suggestions which others have found helpful to cope emotionally and physically.

Your emotions

Crying, sleeplessness, bad dreams, moodiness, confusion, lack of appetite, loss of concentration, low tolerance and angry outbursts are all normal reactions when someone is missing.


Communicating with others

  • Talk to people about your situation and express your needs clearly and honestly with family, friends and colleagues

  • Give yourself permission to feel hurt, upset, angry, frustrated or sad. Express such feelings to a trusted friend, relative, counsellor or confidante

  • Contact crisis counselling services or seek professional assistance should you require support .

  • Taking care of each other

  • Consider asking a favourite aunt, uncle or close friend to keep an eye on younger family members if a close relative is missing.

  • Children and teenagers will need to talk their feelings through, but could be afraid of upsetting their parents – especially if a sibling is missing

  • Children often show feelings through their behaviour in times of stress. Allow young people to talk openly and try to avoid judging their behaviour.

  • Try not to get angry or upset with friends or family members who you feel may not share or understand your emotions. Responses to stress, grief and loss may vary significantly from person to person.

  • Arrange for a group of friends, neighbours, relatives or colleagues to help you keep up with day-to-day activities. Divide jobs between you and share responsibilities.

Keeping well

  • Try and keep your diet healthy and well balanced. If you don’t feel up to cooking, or simply run out of time, have a relative or friend prepare meals

  • Do things that make you feel good. Take a walk, see a movie, work in your garden, have a massage, take a long bath or listen to your favourite music. Anything that gives you a sense of comfort

  • Try not to feel self conscious, or guilty, for taking time out. Looking after yourself is an important factor in coping while someone is missing


One day at a time

  • Try not to make any big life changes. Your judgement at the moment may be affected

  • Try to include some of your normal routine in your daily schedule. If you usually meet with friends or play sport once a week, try to keep these plans

Professional help

  • Do not hesitate to contact a support group, a trained counsellor, doctor, natural therapy practitioner or other qualified professional if you need support on an ongoing basis

  • If you are unsure where to seek support, please don’t hesitate to ask your case officer or the Missing Persons Helpline for a referral

  • If your missing persons returns home, consider obtaining professional counselling, mediation or reconciliation support to help prevent the situation recurring

Essential health checklist

  • ​There is probably a lot going on around you and it may be difficult to maintain your usual routine or think clearly. People who have shared similar experiences have helped compile the following checklist to highlight some of the more personal practical matters you may need to handle.​

Your work

  • Advise your employer of the situation and discuss the possibility of time off work if required

Your finances

  • Speak to your bank manager or financial adviser if you think you will require extra funds to help cover mortgage payments, rent, bill or any unexpected travel or personal expenses

  • Arrange for a close friend, colleague or relative to keep track of your bills or other commitments you might not be able to attend


 Your home life

  • Arrange for someone to stay at your home in case the missing person tries to make contact. If this is not practical, or the person is missing for a long period of time, an answering machine or mobile telephone are alternatives

  • Inform your neighbours that there may be Gardai and/or media present at your house

  • Arrange for a group of relatives or friends to take care of chores like cleaning, washing, ironing or preparing meals if you are unable to attend to these jobs

  • Have someone you trust take your children to and from school if search commitments or appointments do not allow you to do so


Your privacy

  • It is not a good idea to publicise your private telephone or mobile phone numbers. This could lead to troublemakers or unscrupulous people trying to take advantage of your situation

Families of missing people are often contacted by psychics and clairvoyants. While some may be genuinely trying to help, don’t feel obliged to deal with them. You can take their details if you wish or, preferably, ask them to contact your case officer.