As we age, we may think of people from our past that we’d like to reconnect with. Perhaps we’d like to see how old friends or flames are doing, but have no idea how to go about it. It’s perfectly normal to have lost touch with people and no one should feel badly about it.
We tend to make friends during high school and university, but as we age, we marry, move away and even lose touch with people who were once important to us. It happens to everyone. The good news is that in this day and age of technology, it’s easier than it has ever been to locate someone that we knew years ago. And so much more effective! First, we need some basic computer and internet skills.
If you’re not familiar with how to get around on a computer, check out these articles first:
What kind of friends can I find?
With the aid of the internet, a “regular person” is able to locate anyone, pretty much around the world. This can include:
- Old friends
- Ex boyfriends or girlfriends
- School mates
- Teachers and professors
- Friends of friends
- Extended family members
Is there a “downside”?
At any age, if we’ve lost touch with someone, it’s possible that they are no longer with us. Accidents, poor health and age alone can contribute to friends who we knew in the past passing away. Please know that there is the possibility that when you locate someone, they may have passed and you will need to manage your emotions around the loss.
If you locate someone who has passed and would like to speak with someone about your loss, reach out to family member, member of your church or have a look at the information provided by the Grief Resource Network.
What are the steps I can take?
It takes a little bit of organization and perhaps a notebook to track your steps, but it isn’t a difficult task. It just requires patience and curiosity. Here are some helpful steps:
Write down everything you can remember about the person. Names, addresses, dates, names of schools, people who knew them back in the day. Perhaps go through an old yearbook, phone book or address book to gain as much information as possible. If possible, find old photos that show what the person looked like at the time. This will give you the information you need for your starting point.
Start by contacting people you are still in touch with who knew the person in the past. This is a little time consuming, but may save you additional steps. Perhaps someone has a family member who is still in touch with your friend. You’ll likely need to make some phone calls, but it just might be worth it!
Perform a basic online search. This means searching in Google for the person. Here are steps you want to take while performing an online search:
- Search by their full name and also any nicknames they had in the past. Such as: Elizabeth Smith Liza
- Use a combination of their name and date of birth (if you know it). Such as: Elizabeth Smith December 12 1942 or Elizabeth Smith 12/12/1942
- Use a combination of their name and town where they were from. Such as: Elizabeth Smith Clinton New Jersey
**Don’t forget women often use married names, so use that also if you know it. You can also use it in combination with their maiden name, such as: Elizabeth Smith Johnson
- Use a combination of their name and the school they went to. Such as: Elizabeth Smith North Hunterdon High School
- Search to see if your old school has a website. They may not have back in the day, but many schools have digitized their old alumni, perhaps including photos.
- Search Alumni Associations. Many colleges and universities have them and have also digitized their alumni database.
- Search whitepages.com – This is the phone book, but online! Many people have been able to locate friends, using the same methods we used to when searching through the phone book.
- Use genealogy sites such as Ancestry or FamilySearch to help locate records or births, marriages, divorces, deaths.
- Perform a Facebook search. If you have a Facebook account, this can be a very effective way to find someone. If you don’t have an account, it might be worth creating one just for this purpose.
- Search court and public records. Many cities and states offer access to these records online, although not all do. Try searching in Google for things like “court records” Clinton New Jersey.
***PRO-TIP – When you locate any piece of information about the person, even if it seems like a dead-end, write it down. Names, old addresses, possible family members can all be helpful in the future.
- Consider that your friend may have passed away. Try searching websites such as Legacy, Tributes or Find A Grave.
If you’re unable to locate your friend, you may want to look into hiring a private investigator. Have a look here for more information.
As you can see, it’s fairly easy these days to track down someone who used to be special to you. Reconnecting with people from our past can be a wonderful thing. If you aren’t computer savvy, surely there is a younger person in your friends and family circle who would be happy to help out!
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