How I learned to cope when family members became estranged

It’s a bizarre feeling — missing someone even though they’re still around. A person you once loved is now a hazy lingering flashback in your mind. You wonder the simple things, like what are they doing these days? or are they thinking of me, too? It’s one thing to lose someone when they pass away, but when they abandon you by choice, the pain cuts deeper than you could expect.

I lost contact with most of my mom’s extended family during my senior year of high school. If you were to ask me what happened, I honestly couldn’t tell you how or why the feud started.

I was never directly involved in the fight, but somehow, I became collateral damage in the crossfire. In hindsight, I would have never imagined we would end up disconnected – or that the grudge would have lasted this long. I never understood why any of this was happening, but I know it has never felt right.


As the years have passed, countless holidays, birthdays, celebrations, and graduations have come and gone. There have been once in a lifetime milestones and disappointing bumps along the way. The one thing missing from all of these events, whether good or bad, was the comfort of knowing I still had my distant family members by my side.

When I first lost touch with them, I continuously made an effort to try and patch things up.

Growing up, my parents taught me that family is always family, no matter the circumstances. I’d extend invitations to family gatherings, call on birthdays and on Christmas, but it was always met with a cold shoulder. Traditions were turning into fleeting memories, and I had no idea what I could do to stop it.


Despite my best efforts, the radio silence has continued, and my estranged family members still remain estranged.

It’s been a tough pill to swallow, but I can’t let it stop me from moving forward. In the aftermath of the fallout, I’ve learned that you can’t control the curve balls life throws at you. Instead, you can decide if they will impact you for better or worse. Bitterness only lasts for so long, and at some point, I learned to put it behind me as best as I could.

As my family drifted further apart over the years, it was the little things that I missed the most. I remembered the laughs from inside jokes, our favorite pastimes to bond over, and the warmth of sitting down together for a family dinner. Although I’ll always cherish these memories and love my family, I play no part in deciding whether or not they choose to be in my life. Like I said before, family will always be family even if they don’t want to be mine anymore.

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