One of peoples’ greatest regrets is never having reconnected with estranged loved ones. Whether there was a conflict or they’ve simply drifted away, it’s not uncommon that parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, and other relationships find themselves out of contact. Truly, it is an epidemic that silently hurts the people involved, and the family around them.
In many cases, time can heal deep wounds, although it can take months or even years to get over a blowout with family. Perhaps it’s been long enough that the conflict seems petty compared to the potential of togetherness. Perhaps you don’t want to continue a cycle in which family members are not on speaking terms. If you’ve decided to try to reconnect with a long lost loved one, here are some suggestions to consider:
Understand What Caused the Estrangement
Maybe you’ve already done this work, but truly understanding what caused the estrangement from both ends is the first step in reconnecting with someone. Is it an issue that remains unresolved? Is there an apology or forgiveness needed? Did something big occur or was it many tiny events that led to separation? If you’re left in the dark, ask somebody who may know what went awry.
Heal Yourself First
Once again, time may have already healed some wounds. But, especially if there was a big disagreement, you may still be carrying some residual guilt or resentment towards your estranged loved one. It is important to work on healing yourself first, or the patterns that caused the conflict may arise again.
Reach Out Several Times
Stubbornness tends to be a big reason family members never reconnect. One party may feel so wronged by the other that the former feels the latter should make all the effort. Regardless what end you’re on, it’s likely that one call or email will not cut it. Reach out to them a few times over a months, in order to show them you are willing to put in work for their love.
Forgive and Ask Forgiveness
Whatever is holding you back from closeness with loved ones needs to be let go in order to pave way for a future. Forgive them and yourself for your wrongs; give them a space to comfortably do the same if they’ve wronged you. Talk it out and show them that moving forward from past mistakes is something you are serious about.
Work on Any Lingering Issues
If the estrangement was caused by conflict, be constructive in your discussions to fix it together. Broken relationships can cause a lot of pain; tackle them head on, together, remembering that the light of the end of the tunnel is your goal. Speak your mind and make it a point to hear them out; open and honest dialogue where everyone feels validated is key.
Respect Their Boundaries
Even if you don’t agree with their boundaries, accept your estranged loved ones for any pace they want to take. Just because you are ready for things to go a certain way, doesn’t mean they are.
If you’re really serious about making the relationship work, put in that work! Reuniting with family members is a tricky task to navigate, and requires care, patience, and communication. Make the effect required to show them you love them.
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