Background: Denmark has high numbers of drug-related overdose deaths. However, knowledge is lacking regarding the impact that these deaths have on significant others. Aim: To describe the relatives’ experiences with drug-related deaths before, under and after the fatal overdose. Methods: Systematic text condensation of data obtained from five research interviews with relatives who had lost a total of six members of their family due to drug-related overdose death. Results: The world collapses when relatives experience drug-related overdose deaths. The experiences involve emotional and existential strain, which is often intensified as a result of previous stressful life circumstances and lack of professional support. Conclusion: Relatives’ experiences involve individual, cultural and structural factors, such as stress, loss, stigma, and the lack of coordinated support and help. These factors result in significant strains before, under, and after the fatal overdose; which affect quality of life significantly.

Keywords: drug-related death, overdose, relatives, qualitative interviews, systematic text condensation