Welcome to the new Genes Reunited blog!
- We regularly add blogs covering a variety of topics. You can add your own comments at the bottom.
- The Genes Reunited Team will be writing blogs and keeping you up to date with changes happening on the site.
- In the future we hope to have guest bloggers that will be able to give you tips and advice as to how to trace your family history.
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At Genes Reunited we know searching for missing family members is one of the most emotional journeys a person will ever take. If you’re on this site reading this the chances are you’ve been on a rollercoaster ride of research. This is all done in the hopes that your future will include this newfound relative. Then you do and there’s a sense of triumph for finding them coupled with the feeling of fear; because finding them is only part of the journey.
Once you’ve found your long lost relative the question on how to contact your family member arises. A phone call feels too awkward and a little forceful. What if they hang up? An email feels too impersonal and blasé. What if it gets sent to their Junk mail? A letter however might be just right in terms of opening the lines of communication.
People have been writing letters for centuries. There is nothing as valuable or revelatory as a good letter. Once, the only means of long-distanced communication the art of letter writing has been replaced by innovative technology and is now merely a quaint habit for the quirky or technophobe.
There are lots of arguments for sending a letter to a long lost relative. Letters take more time to compose than an email and require a lot of thought on the right choice of words that best describe how you feel. When writing a letter the writer has to think carefully about what they truly want to say and how they want to express their emotions to a family member whom you’ve never met or not seen for a long time.
Here are five top tips to take note of:
1. Determine the letter’s purpose and stick to it
Why are you writing this letter? What do you want to achieve with this letter when writing? What results do you want to get once it’s sent? Thinking of a goal for your letter makes the whole writing process so much easier. The purpose of the communication could be anything from setting up a meeting or reunion to making the person you send the letter to aware of your existence or show a willingness form a relationship. It’s so easy to let your mind wander away with ideas of what to write in a letter. But stay focused and keep what you write down on the topic. Otherwise, your goal will be completely lost on the person who receives the letter.
2. Write with the pen and not your emotions
Using overly emotional language is not a good idea when writing a letter to a long lost family member. This is especially the case if you harbour even a small amount of resentment towards them. An angry letter won’t encourage a relative to respond and any chances of a relationship will be broken. Remember this is the first line of communication. You have to start by keeping your emotions in check. Be approachable but not needy or whiny.
3. Keep it short
Writing long letters is a common mistake. Long letters mean a long rant and a load of waffle. You don’t need to note your life story down. You don’t want to overwhelm the relative. Remember the purpose – to establish a contact with someone for the first time in the hopes of possibly building a relationship and invest time in getting to know each other. A page or two will suffice. Be succinct and to the point.
4. Write one day but send it the next day
After you’ve finished writing a letter, it’s best to leave it aside overnight instead of sending it off immediately. You need time to reflect on what you’ve written. Maybe you want to change something you put down, edit out or add a sentence. The desire for an answer as soon as possible can make you act hastily and send the first draft. Try to be patient. All good things come in their rightful time.
5. Get someone to read your letter
Get a friend or family – someone you trust and who’s been supportive throughout your search - to read the letter. Ask them questions; how would they feel if they received a letter like this? What’s their first impression? Is your message clear enough? Another set of eyes will find any errors or wrong-sounding phrases. A friend or family member will be honest as well and can provide helpful feedback.
Writing a letter to a lost family member isn’t easy, but there are some guides to making sure you write the best letter possible. The best thing is to take your time. This is not something that can be rushed. In this particular circumstance the letter is not just an art form of communication but a key to opening a door into another person’s life. Good luck, and may the first letter you send be one of many more to follow and the start of a beautiful relationship.