What you describe happens to all families. After the matriarchs and patriarchs have passed, life goes on, but things are not the same. Nuclear families draw together, sometimes forgetting or overlooking the glue that united the extended family throughout the generations. A few tips on reaching out to those who have distanced themselves:
*Always invite them to the Reunion; never lose their contact information; keep the family database up to date.
*Set up a time for matriarchs and patriarchs to be remembered during the reunion. Ask distanced descendants to share memories and photos of those who have passed on.
*Ask a family member with the time and "right" personality to reach out to those who have distanced themselves, affirm that their presence is missed, and invite dialogue on how they might participate in the next reunion.
*Ask those who have distanced themselves to contribute to the family website, Facebook page or newsletter.
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Over the past three years several family matriarchs and patriarchs have passed, and we've noticed that many of their descendants have distanced themselves from the family. Is this something that happens to all families? How do we re-engage these family members, or should we leave them alone and hope they come back on their own?