Tracing Lost Loved Ones

Tracing lost loved ones can be a heartbreaking process. It can also be a way to bring closure and to get information about what happened to your family member.


Search their social media accounts and websites. Search online directories and the websites of any clubs, unions or fraternal organizations that they belong to.

Financial Records

Various records are kept by public and state agencies on people’s lives; this is especially true of financial transactions. If you know your missing loved one’s name, you can search public records for bankruptcy, marriage, divorce and criminal activity. You can also look up professional licensing records, such as cosmetology, nursing, counseling, therapy and law. These records may help you narrow down where your loved one lives or works.

The ICRC and National Red Cross Societies offer family-tracing services to connect with families separated by conflict, natural disaster or migration overseas. These services are free of charge and can be used by individuals or groups.

Another way to trace lost loved ones is by searching for them on social media sites. This is particularly useful if they have publicly stated that they are missing. You can also call their employer or place of worship. This is often effective because the person will have a connection to these places, or it will be the only way that they can get in contact with you. Finally, you can try to contact them by phone or text message. These methods can be successful if you are persistent and use off-peak hours to reach them.

Social Media

When a loved one passes away, it is often difficult to decide what to do with their social media accounts and other online profiles. While some people may choose to delete their accounts entirely, others prefer to memorialize them instead. This can be a way to remember the person and keep their memories alive, as well as honor their memory by recognizing anniversaries and birthdays.

When making a decision about whether to memorialize or delete your loved one’s account, be sure to consult with other family members and friends. It’s important to think about what your loved one would have wanted, and to consider their values and lifestyle as well. For example, if your loved one lived their life loudly online, maybe they wouldn’t want to be forgotten on their Facebook page after death.

Many social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, allow immediate family members to request that a deceased member’s account be removed or memorialized. You can do this by providing proof of identity and a death certificate.

Some people even use social media to trace their missing loved ones, with heartwarming results. But, the internet is also a dangerous place, where malicious fraudsters get their kicks by publishing false information and mocking those who are trying to find their lost relatives. This kind of behaviour can hinder the search for missing persons and even result in tragedy.


Newspapers can be useful to genealogists seeking information beyond what is available from vital records. Obituaries, for instance, can give family names and maiden or married names that are often omitted in other sources. But newspapers also report on many other events that can add historical context to an ancestor’s life, or even lead to further records.

Local social columns, for example, can reveal connections between family members who lived in different places. They can also help uncover important dates, like when a family member moved to a new town or country, and help researchers find other records that are otherwise hard to find.

UK newspapers often represented COVID-19 deaths as tragic and in conflict with culturally expected practices of’saying goodbye’. This reflected concerns about the limitations of infection control measures on visitation and funeral policies, and problems with accessing PPE and virus testing facilities. Emotive language was used to describe experiences of bereavement, with people described as ‘heartbroken’ and ‘devastated’. Families were advised to ‘be strong’ for their loved ones. These characterizations can be challenging to the health and welfare professionals who support people during the bereavement of a loved one. They raise questions about how people’s experience of a death is represented in the media and what impact this might have on those experiencing bereavement.

Police Reports

When loved ones go missing it’s important that a police report be filed to help police locate them. If a family member has a medical condition that makes it difficult for them to communicate and/or identify themselves, consider enrolling them in the Irvine Police Department’s Return Home Registry. This free program allows caregivers to register their loved ones so that if they ever become lost or disoriented while out in public, officers can have vital information ready to connect them with family members.

When a loved one is reported missing check with their friends, relatives and coworkers to see when they last saw them. Also, look at their social media and other online accounts to see if they post any clues that can lead to their whereabouts. If they have a website, creating one with a name such as “FindJaneSmith” or “PleaseHelpFindJohnDoe” will ensure that their page will show up on Google search results.

In addition to the national missing persons databases, all police are required by law to place a missing person on the National Crime Information Center as an endangered adult. When this happens, their information is accessible to any officer across the country. Check in with the local police departments in other cities and states where your loved ones have lived to see if they have any additional information.