The holidays are a time when we surround ourselves with family and friends, and for many of us they are a time when we mourn those we have lost. For some families the holidays may be an opportunity to reunite with someone who has been missing from the table in the past years or the chance to introduce someone new to the family.
Reuniting can be a joyous occasion but steps should be taken to ensure it’s a holiday to remember for all the right reasons. Though exciting, getting back in touch can be a nerve-wracking experience. How do you reach out to the person? What do you talk about?
Here are some tips on how to establish a connection with someone you’ve been searching for:
The first step towards connecting with a long-lost friend or family member is to initiate conversation. Get in touch via whatever method feels comfortable to you. Pick up the phone and give them a call. If you feel more comfortable organizing your thoughts on paper, write a letter. Sending an email or messaging them through a social media site is also an option.
Planning a face-to-face meet-up
Agree to meet where you both feel comfortable. Your initial meet-up should be low-pressure and relaxed. Opt for a shorter get-together as opposed to spending the entire day with each other. Grab a cup of coffee at a neighborhood café or meet at a bar for a drink. For the sake of not overwhelming the situation, it may be a good idea to do the initial meet-up by yourself. You may have been dreaming about introducing your husband and child to your biological mother; however, meeting with you alone will be emotional enough. See how that first conversation goes. There will be time down the line to introduce her to additional members of your family.
Letting go of the past
People lose touch for a variety of reasons. Sometimes there is a rift that causes people to part ways. Other times there’s a sense of abandonment—a daughter is reuniting with her mother than gave her up for adoption, children have been estranged from one parent and have since felt neglected, etc. Getting back together with someone will likely involve revisiting hurtful memories from the past. Express your feelings and be truthful with the other person. Communication will be key in helping you to mend your relationship. Apologize for any wrongdoings in the past and do your best to forgive the other person.
What to talk about
Just like a blind date, a reunion with a lost friend, love, or family member may be initially awkward. Chances are it’s been years since you’ve seen this person, or it’s possible that this will be the first time that you’ve ever talked. To keep things flowing smoothly, it may help you to consider a few conversational topics prior to the meeting.
- Talk about your own life: Touch on what you do for a living, how you met your spouse, discuss you family/children, hobbies, etc.
- Ask questions about the other person’s life: What have they been up to all these years? What do they do for a job? What is their family like?
- Reminisce on fond memories of the past: Talk about prom night with your long-lost high school friend. Ask your father that you haven’t spoken with in years if he still likes to take those summer fishing trips. Touching on happy memories that you shared in the past will help things to feel more relaxed and will give the relationship a sense of familiarity.
- Keep the conversation neutral: Refrain from bringing up strong opinions in regards to the other person’s life. Don’t revisit drama from the past. Speak and listen as if you are getting to know someone for the first time. Remember that first impressions count for a lot. According to Professor Frank Bernieri of Oregon State University, “First impressions are the fundamental drivers of our relationships.”
- Make an effort to discover things you have in common: Talk about books you’ve read recently, movies you’ve seen, hobbies you’re into, and places you love to travel. People enjoy talking about their extracurricular activities and chances are, there will be something here that you can connect on.
Getting together with someone from your past can be a little intimidating at first. Before initiating communication, take a second to remember why you have been searching for that person in the first place. Establish contact when you are comfortable and ready. Be honest and sincere in your initial approach. Once you get past the first meeting, things will begin to flow. Follow the tips above and you’ll be on your way to rekindling your relationship in no time.
Click here to find out what you should expect before you reunite.