Metabolizing Ancestral Grief

I continue my deep dive into ancestral grief and I invite you to do the same.

Why? Some of our emotional issues and even our grief may not be ours-it’s passed down from our ancestors to us. Sometimes this shows up as addictions and physical illness. So we do this for our health and the health of future generations…

I recently had a vague dream that I couldn’t remember. Upon waking my thoughts went to my paternal grandmother Ruth. She lost her sister Ebba suddenly, they were only 15 months apart. 



My aunt Ebba died when she was around the age of 60. I was 3 and I wore her hat all day to honor her. (I started doing grief rituals at a young age.) 😉

After this dream awareness space, I felt such deep sadness and had more understanding for my grandmother’s immense grief-to lose a soul sister. 

I felt more empathy for my grandma and her loss is another layer of my ancestral grief. 

I’ve been more aware of all the grief that isn’t mine lately as I dive into my ancestral past like I never have before.

I recently got my DNA test results from 23andme. So now I have that information about where I come from. There are no surprises there-I am mostly German and Swedish. But it was fascinating to read all the info and see exactly what regions I come from on the world map.

I highly recommend a DNA test if you are curious to know more about your roots. It may help with the feeling of being lost.


I also started going down another rabbit hole of using the site set up by the Mormon Church called familysearch.org


I found my maternal great grandfather’s obituary. He’d been married before he married my great grandmother and had my grandfather. And I also learned that my grandpa had two older half siblings. 


And this was what I found from one simple search. Just imagine what else there is for me to discover!

And again, I was struck with so many emotions. I noticed a longing to go “home,” a longing to place my bare feet and hands on the land where I come from-the land before my ancestors arrived here on Turtle Island. 


And I also had more grief arise-to learn that my great grandfather lost his first wife when she was only 26 and was suddenly a single father of two young children. 


So, my curiosity is alive and well. Did he grieve this? How? And how did he find my great grandmother?


Also, I have so much gratitude that he found her, otherwise I wouldn’t have been born. 


Now there is more depth to my ancestral prayers where I thank them for all the decisions they made that allowed me to be here at this time on this planet.


There are so many layers of love and loss to process, so much ancestral grief.


This is so important, the grief work I do regarding their loss helps both me and my ancestors. 


I heal ancestral grief by taking space and feeling their grief and then honoring it and speaking it back to them. 


So today in my ancestral communication/prayer time I told my grandma that I feel for her, and how painful that must have been to lose her soul sister. And I thank my great grandpa for all he did to continue his life and for meeting his new wife.


Then I simply sat and felt all the grief-mine and theirs. 


When we do this it helps metabolize the grief for both you and your ancestors.


If you need support with this practice, reach out and let me know, I’m so available to help you with your ancestral grief.


And speaking of more grief—I’m writing to you on the new moon and the day before a major holiday in the United States: Thanksgiving. 


I’m very aware of my settler history and that this holiday is based on the genocide of so many Native Americans. 


I will still choose to be with my family on this day and have a meal together, but I’ll also be referring to this day as the National Day of Mourning. Since 1970 Native Americans have been bringing awareness to this:

In honor of this day, I’ll give money to a local non-profit that serves the Diné, Hopi and Lakota Nations with food and gifts at this holiday time. If you’d like to join me, here’s the link.

It’s time to really recognize our part as settlers. How can we reconcile our past and the past actions or inactions of our own ancestors?


For me it starts with awareness, then educating others about this, and giving back to Native communities. Eventually I intend to hold a grief ritual to honor the complex feelings that arise regarding our settler history and how to be with it today. 


This is also why it’s important as settlers in this country to learn the path of how our ancestors arrived here on Turtle Island.


What’s their story? Why did they leave-were they forced to, were they fleeing violence themselves? What did they leave behind? Did they have time to grieve? How did they process all the loss? And then how did they integrate into a new life here in this new world, and what were the losses involved with that?


That’s a lot to process…and it leaves me with a deep heaviness.


And yet, we must do this very important work so that our children and future generations won’t have to carry this heavy burden for us. 


As Francis Weller states about reconnecting to our ancestors and ancestral ways:


“This is a form of ancestral soul retrieval each of us can do. As we do so, we become better able to set our souls into this soil and become indigenous on this land.”