Should Man Contact Parents of High School Classmate Who Died?

Question from Al:  Should I contact parents whose child, a high school friend, died 20 years ago? I feel awkward about doing this, especially at my age, mostly because she was their only child, and I don’t want to invade their lives or bring them any more grief. I am married and have children and have discussed this with my wife.

Dr. Gloria Horsley responds: Dear Al, Your e-mail question really resonated with me. My son, Scott, was killed 26 years ago and as a result of Facebook my daughters have been hearing from many of their and his old friends. What is really wonderful is when they not only say they knew Scott but when they tell a memory of him. Parents and siblings love to hear their loved one’s name and know that they have not been forgotten. I would keep it light and just tell a great story of how they impacted you in a positive way. You don’t need to tell them about your great life or family, just how you enjoyed their daughter. If they want to know more about your life, they will get back to you. The fact that she was an only child make memories even more precious. You make me think that there might be others out there who would like to send us some Facebook love regarding Scott but are hesitant. To my mind, positive reminders are never out of place; however, there are a few injured souls who don’t want to be reminded, and for them there is always the delete and spam button.  So, I say go for it and send a little kindness and care in to cyberspace.  Let us know how it goes.  Dr. Gloria

Gloria Horsley is founder of the Open to Hope Foundation.

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  • Anne says:

    Dear Al,

    My heart leapt up into my throat when I read your question. I have been asking myself the same question just within the last few weeks as the 30th anniversary of my high school friend’s death came around. I decided to write his parents an email through this high school. The school forward it. They responded and were very happy to hear from me. It means so much to them that I still remember Curtis and that i still think of him so much and keep the memories close to my heart. I agree with Dr. Gloria here. Her advice is very good. As long as you’re sensitive to their feelings and their wishes, I think it’s a great idea. We all – as a society – need to practice more kindness, especially around the sensitive and yet very real subject of the loss of teenage friends.
    Good luck, Al.