Family ties: Don’t wait until it’s too late

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“Hey Taylor,” my dad said on the phone. “I just wanted to let you know your uncle Warren passed away.”

I felt nothing. 

Not a single tear rolled down my cheek, and my voice didn’t crack as I spoke about him. 

I barely have any recollection of my uncle because the last time I saw him, I was only 8 years old. He is among the long list of relatives I have visited only a handful of times before my parents cut ties with them due to an argument. 

I felt like an outcast in my own family. Because of this, whenever my mom and I looked at old photo albums together, I found myself repeatedly asking her, “Who is that?” 

“Oh, you don’t remember them?” she asked. “Then again I guess you wouldn’t since the last time you saw them, you were 4 years old.”

The next time I get that phone call, I want to be able to think back to all of the memories I shared with my relative instead of just shrugging it off and going about my day.

I could sense pain and regret in my dad’s voice, and I can’t help but think if he would have just let arguments go, he could have been more involved in my uncle’s life. I’m not saying you should always keep in contact with your family because you’re related, but I know most arguments can be resolved if people just set aside their pride and forgive. 

Although it’s easier said than done, I know we are capable of forgiveness. In the moment, it might seem like the only answer is to cease all communication with certain family members, but it shouldn’t be a long-term solution. Before you realize it, you’ll miss out on significant milestones in their life that you will never be able to experience again because you chose to ignore their calls or Facebook messenger requests.

Now ask yourself, was ignoring them worth it?

Do something now, rather than later

Holding a grudge against someone is not going to make you feel better in the long run. I often hear people say, “I wonder how different things could have been if I did this instead?” Why bother dwelling on ‘what if’ years down the line when you are capable of changing your family relationship now?

Take others into consideration

Sometimes you have to go beyond your own personal beliefs and think of who else you’re affecting when you establish this wall between family. Does this mean you will no longer attend family gatherings if this specific person also said they’d be there, or will you make the atmosphere uncomfortable for everyone else by going? For the sake of others in your immediate and extended family, sometimes your petty disagreements are not worth the drama and awkwardness during celebrations later on down the line. 

Aside from family gatherings, you also have to take into account additional family you are cutting out of your life because you no longer communicate with a certain family member. When my parents stopped talking to my uncle, our yearly visits to see him and his family became nonexistent. The bonds I had with my cousins at a young age are not the same today, and they probably never will be.

Don’t be that person who doesn’t know your family and feels indifferent when you hear about their passing. All it takes is a simple phone call to express your feelings to heal years worth of resentment and wasted time spent away from each other.