Increasing numbers of Australians and people across the globe go missing each year and this has triggered an expression of national and international concern. Australia has been at the forefront in developing initiatives to combat this problem. People of all ages still go missing, and for the families of those who disappear, the loss is traumatic. Research on the families of long-term missing persons, to this point, has been limited. Therefore, familial experience is not well understood. Little is known of the trauma, loss and grief associated with a missing person within these families. The findings of this study highlight the need for a biopsychosocial framework to understand the ways in which families experience the psychological presence of a person who is physically absent. This framework acknowledges that a person goes missing from a particular social context and that the ambiguity of the loss and the grief the family experiences does not lessen the continuing bond they share with their loved one.