ON the eighth anniversary of their son's disappearance, the parents of Daniel Morcombe have revealed they fear their toughest years are still ahead of them.
The final year of searching for the missing 13-year-old has been the most tumultuous and revealing.
The coronial inquest finished hearing evidence in March, a man was arrested and charged with Daniel's murder in August and days later the search team found the teenager's remains.
Bruce and Denise Morcombe have spoken publicly about their year, including the harrowing press conference on the day after the arrest of Daniel's alleged murderer.
But today they said they would choose to stay private during a month that will also see Daniel's twin brother Bradley turn 22.
"It has been an amazing year of gut-churning emotions," Mr Morcombe wrote in a statement to the Daily.
"Twelve months ago we were sitting through the coronial inquest, listening to evidence in a methodical and calculated way, desperate to uncover the truth from so many lies.
"This public inquiry continued until March, when it was adjourned for a date to be fixed.
"What now? Waiting, waiting, waiting and more waiting.
"Then, like a shot from a cannon, we were all floored by the news that police had a man in custody and charges were imminent."
Brett Peter Cowan was arrested and charged on August 13.
Within days searchers had found a shoe in bushland at Glasshouse Mountains.
They found a second shoe and then bones, later confirmed through DNA tests to be Daniel's remains.
"Days would pass, then on Father's Day we received our last news of remains being found," Mr Morcombe said.
It was the same day Premier Anna Bligh announced that Mr and Mrs Morcombe would be made ambassadors for child safety in Queensland.
The pair took a child-safety tour from Brisbane to Cairns and then to Miles, Biloela and the Gold Coast, buoyed by a swell of support.
"The Daniel Morcombe Foundation continued to be active all year but something happened to ordinary Australians on August 13, too," Mr Morcombe said.
"The website just lit up with immediate interest.
"People had a thirst for information about Daniel and the work of the foundation."
Orders inundated the foundation and on Day for Daniel in October more than one million school students participated in child-safety events.
Last month Mr and Mrs Morcombe were announced as finalists for next year's Australian of the year award for their dedication to child-safety education.
Privately, the Morcombe family had hoped a funeral for Daniel was closer than ever.
They had hoped it would be held today.
"Sadly, no," Mr Morcombe said.
"In yet another upsetting moment … we received the official news that Daniel's remains would be considered as evidence and as such are unlikely to be returned to the family until after the trial is complete."
Mr and Mrs Morcombe said it had been "a bittersweet year that would test the sanity of most".
Daniel's 21st birthday passed, then Christmas, another Mother's Day and a Father's Day.
For the Morcombes they are terribly sad occasions instead of celebrations.
"Fortunately we have survived," Mr Morcombe said.
"But as the legal process slowly warms into a stomach-churning committal trial, to which we are barred attending, it is obvious the next year or two will possibly be even more confronting for all those who were close to Daniel."
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