Background: Close relatives of people with severe mental illness (SMI) experience problems known as family burdens. In addition, they may have their own needs for support, something often overlooked by the healthcare system. Meta-syntheses in this area may help explore the meaning of the experience of living with someone who has a SMI. Aim: Our aim was to describe the burdens experienced and needs perceived on a daily basis by relatives to someone who has a SMI. Methods: The databases PubMed, CINAHL, and PsychInfo were searched using a systematic search strategy. Studies were screened for relevance and quality was appraised. A meta-synthesis of nine qualitative studies was then conducted. Results: The nine studies discerned the following themes. Burden themes; Forced to carry a sometimes unbearable burden; Burdened by own ill-health and disrupted relationships; Distressed and stigmatized by society. Needs themes; strengthening protective factors; Skills and practical support greatly appreciated. Conclusions: The burdens and needs of relatives of persons with SMI strongly influence their lives. They require relief from both practical and emotional burdens. Family interventions and other programs to support relatives should be encouraged with this knowledge in mind.