It may be a cliche but that does not detract from the truth of the statement - the family of missing 14-year-old Belfast boy Noah Donohoe are living every parent's nightmare.
is disappearance is bizarre which only adds to the distress of the family. He was last seen riding his bicycle nearly naked and then setting off on foot towards dense woodland.
Noah had cycled across the city to the Shore Road area on Sunday evening and there is a report that someone answering his description had fallen from a bicycle not far from where he was last seen.
There are several other puzzling elements. Where did he go after getting off his bicycle and how was someone who was semi-naked not spotted by more people? Those who know him say it is totally out of character for him to behave in such a manner, leading to speculation that he suffered a head injury in his fall.
It is obvious that concern is growing for the missing boy's wellbeing and the family have been heartened by the widespread response from people right across the city and further afield in the search for him.
However, police still need more assistance. Could Noah have found a hideaway in which to shelter? Had he perhaps taken clothes from a washing line to replace his own missing items? What happened to other items he had with him including a laptop in a rucksack?
All these questions and more are running through Noah's family's minds and the mental torment they are undergoing is impossible to imagine. They have been plunged into a situation which, in the words of local vernacular, you would not wish on your worst enemy.
Every minute must seem like an hour and every hour like an eternity as they wait and watch and hope that the beloved teenage boy is returned to their arms safe and well.
It is often the case in situations like this that people have a snippet of important information but feel that someone else must have already given it to police or one of the search teams. Everyone who has any information, no matter how insignificant it may seem, must pass it on to the police. It could be the missing part of the jigsaw which solves this baffling mystery.
It seems inconceivable that Noah could have vanished completely on a bright Sunday late afternoon without attracting some attention, however fleeting. His mum Fiona made an impassioned plea - "I just want my son back." Everyone hopes her wish is granted.