The Morcombes: In their own words
THE parents of Sunshine Coast schoolboy Daniel Morcombe, Bruce and Denise, share their personal insight into what they have been going through since Daniel's remains were found.
THE past few months have been like nothing else we have experienced before.
It is almost like the past seven and a half years didn't happen.
It's hard to explain but we have been through the emotional wringer.
Daniel went missing in 2003, but it's almost like we lost him again, just a few months ago.
We've spoken at length about the arrest, about wanting justice to take its course and the need to let the judicial system do it's work.
But it doesn't make living it any easier.
Learning our boy had been found was like losing him all over again.
But we haven't really had a chance to mourn like a family usually would in this situation.
We aren't complaining - for the most part, it's been our choice to work harder than ever, to try and create some positives from this nightmare situation and to continue spreading the message of the foundation, which carries our son's name.
But that doesn't mean there aren't times when you wish time would just stop.
Hearing the news that they were preparing to stop the search was harder than when they put an official stop to it.
We had gone to our retreat in Tasmania, to try and take a breath but neither of us could switch off completely.
We returned to the Sunshine Coast just as the search was wrapping up.
The authorities have been wonderful in keeping us updated and we knew the time would come when they would decide they had uncovered all they could.
Still, it was a blow. Logically, you know they can't search forever. As a parent, you just want to bring your boy home.
After the search was called off, we went to the site as a family.
It was our chance to stand in solidarity with Dan. We know he is not there.
Daniel is not what happened to him, or where he was found. He's a beloved son and brother, adored grandson and nephew, a much loved and remembered friend and an enduring light for us all.
We see that light while speaking with school students, spreading the child safety message, which is such a big part of the foundation's
The talks are a balancing act of sorts. We want to make sure they take the message seriously, but we don't want to scare them to the point they think every car which passes them contains a threat.
So we are just as honest as we can be about what happened to Daniel.
Not telling our kids about the dangers in their world isn't protecting them from anything. They need to know to be aware of what's around them. Not afraid, but aware.
We let them know that Daniel was just like them. That he was good and happy and confident and knew where he was going.
We tell them that he was just going to get his haircut and buy some Christmas presents.
And we don't shy away from the simple fact that he didn't get a second chance to retake that journey.
The kids react how you would imagine kids to react.
They tell us they would yell and scream and fight their way free. It's a typical reaction - who hasn't thought as a child that you were ten foot tall and bullet proof?
But we try to teach them to avoid that sort of situation entirely.
We discuss simple measures, from having a family password so they can't be tricked into getting into a car to having Trusted Adults you can count on - be they family members, teachers, friend's parents or even your local police officer.
We tell the kids that these adults will never be mad at them for telling them when something felt wrong.
It's important then, that we listen to our children when they are trying to talk to us.
Kids don't process emotions or actions in the same way we do. We need to be open to what they are trying to tell us.
We also talk to the children about trusting their instincts. It's a simple message and one we could probably all re-learn - if it feels wrong, then it probably is.
We talk to the students about not ignoring those butterflies in their stomach or those situations when their hearts beat faster.
When people look at photos of our son, they are all struck by his innocence. Daniel was innocent. He was gentle and good and everything else, that as an adult, you wish you could hold on to.
But that same innocence is in the eyes of these children we speak to.
They hear stories but they don't really know what it's like not to trust an adult.
Thankfully, most of the children at the schools we visit haven't been in that situation. But the foundation also helps children victim of crime we know what it's like to look into the eyes of a child who has been in that situation.
So when we ask the children how many Facebook friends they have and they proudly raise their hand for over 200, 300, 400 and more, it does make us shudder.
We try and teach them the dangers of sharing information with that many strangers. But we also try and make sure their parents are listening too. It is a brave new world out there, with new wonders but also new dangers.
Just as we know what people think when they look at Daniel's image, we know what they think when they look at ours.
We too hope you never feel as we do. But we don't want your pity. We need your strength.
Our foundation's annual Day for Daniel is October 28. With it, is our walk. We are so grateful for the support which has been shown so far, but please, this isn't a day or a time to mourn.
This is a time to remember and to show our solidarity when it comes to the message of child safety.
We have been touched by the number of people who want to organize their own walks, outside of the Sunshine Coast.
It's what we envisioned when we began this crusade.
Not just one event which grew bigger each year, but many walks happening all around the country for the same cause.
We consider the Day for Daniel to be a national day of action for child safety education. Not just for this year, but every year.
We have no plans to slow down. We have more schools to visit and we'll be participating in walks in Brisbane, the Gold Coast and Melbourne.
We are still nutting out the details when it comes to our new roles as Ambassadors of Child Safety in Queensland.
It is a position we take very seriously and we look forward to working with the government to integrate a child safety program into our schools next year.
In between that, we have countless meetings ahead of us, as the judiciary prepares for a committal hearing.
We also have a funeral to plan.
We still have no concrete plans - it still feels strange even thinking of it.
We know that the community has mourned with us and that many of you feel an emotional connection with Daniel and his story.
We know you want to say goodbye too. But we are still working out how we will be taking that step, let alone when.
In the meantime, we thank you again for your support and your strength.
And we ask you to help put that strength and support into ensuring our children stay safe.
Our son is so much more than just how his life ended.
Help us celebrate what he stood for, by standing side by side and saying, never again.