Ordeal of those left without answers
At last they are able to stop searching.
The discovery of human bones in a submerged car belonging to missing Nelson student Leo Lipp-Neighbours this week still leaves many unanswered questions.
But for his parents, family and friends it does at least bring the prospect of an end to the agony of not knowing.
Any sudden death of a loved one is traumatic, but usually there are the rituals of a funeral to be prepared for, a sense of purpose for a fitting farewell to help push against the grief.
But when someone disappears and there is no body, no trace of what happened, there is nothing to fill those days but fear and hope.
It may lessen as the years pass, but it doesn't go away. Moving on is hard enough, without an answer it must be almost impossible.
In January 2011 on the first anniversary of her son's disappearance, Charlotte Lipp-Neighbours said:"It's not like a funeral where you can celebrate their life and you know they are dead."
She spoke then of her the four scenarios that cycled through her thinking – an accident where he drove off the road, suicide, foul play or the most unlikely, deliberately disappearing and starting with a new identity.
Family and friends have scoured the roads around Nelson and further afield for years looking for a glimpse of his distinctive orange Toyota Corolla.
Instead the terrible irony was that the car was found underwater next to a public wharf in the centre of Nelson's waterfront - a place where his loved ones may have visited, or at the least driven past on the highway into the city.
There is no confirmation that the bones are Leo's, and it's not yet know how the car got there – whether it was driven off the wharf, or entered the water somewhere else.
But after all the searching and speculation about what happened to the talented, gentle 19-year-old that January night, it's incredible that the answer may be found only two kilometres from where he vanished from the face of the earth.