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Ancestral Healing... A Path to Self-Love

We all have a story we hold in our minds about our lives. Sometimes that story changes dramatically leaving us wondering ...who am I? It may bring up many questions. Why is my did this happen to me? We want to blame someone but often end up blaming ourselves. How did I let this happen? It causes grief and trauma, and it stops us in our tracks, freezes us, and prevents us from taking a step forward.

It also can leave you feeling physically exhausted. All of your feelings of anxiety, loneliness, exhaustion and not being able to move forward are normal. It is your reaction to the grief or trauma you have experienced that is too overwhelming for you to process all at once. You may feel like you have lost your sense of self.

I know this because it happened to me. It was through the loss of my husband after a difficult four-year battle with alcoholism that I truly understood this process. I remember the moment when I was told he had passed away and how strange that feeling was that my life would never look the same. It took a while to understand that his illness and passing were traumatic events that I had experienced. I knew I needed to process the trauma along with the grief.

Times like this often have you wanting to experience a deeper sense of self, wanting to find a way to understand more and to make sense of all that has happened. You have heard people talk about Ancestral Trauma and Ancestral Healing but you don't know what that means. You may be thinking, do I have Ancestral Trauma in my background? Would it help to know?

Ancestral trauma and Ancestral healing are complicated. They involve emotional wounds that have been genetically passed down from generation to generation. The Science of Epigenetics tells us that changes in the way our genes work can be affected by trauma experiences and passed down. Meaning, that something that happened to your ancestor affected the way their genes responded and this change has been passed down through your DNA to you.

family tree on Her Nation Magazine
Ancestral trauma and Ancestral healing are complicated. They involve emotional wounds that have been genetically passed down from generation to generation.

Trauma is a lasting emotional response to a stressful, frightening, or distressing event that is difficult to cope with or out of one's control. This can be a single event or can be something that is experienced over and over. Trauma can be caused by war, displacement, abuse (physical, sexual, or emotional), abandonment, neglect, natural disasters, Illness (including addiction), or death of a loved one. People who have been affected by trauma or have had genetic trauma responses passed down to them, show trauma responses like anxiety, PTSD, hyper-awareness, and depression among others.

So where does the healing come from?

When we understand our Ancestral past, meaning the lives our ancestors lived and what they experienced we begin to understand what may have been passed down to us. Every generation experiences trauma. I am a genealogist trained in grief and trauma. In my years of experience of uncovering and discovering ancestral stories, I have come to know and understand Ancestral Trauma and Ancestral Healing. The impact of our Ancestral connection is deeper than most people understand. People will often say, if it is in the past, leave it in the past. But when you discover your ancestral past, you discover more about who you are and where you came from.

Most people who came to me did not know about or understand the Ancestral trauma in their family. But the stories are there and can be discovered in documents, and records that have been saved of the lives of their ancestors. As I would share and explain the trauma some of their ancestors had experienced, many were not surprised. It was not because they had heard it before but because it somehow made sense. This information helped them understand so much more about themselves and their family. And, along with the traumas their ancestors experienced, triumphs and resiliences were passed down. We are afraid of things we don’t know or understand and when we discover the truth, even if it is traumatic, it somehow makes things easier to


The impact of our Ancestral connection is deeper than most people understand.

Ancestral research on my own family has always given me comfort. It’s like sitting with an old comfy blanket. So in those early days after my husband passed away, I went back to researching my family. During that time, I discovered traumas that my ancestors had experienced. There was this strange sense of familiarity of shared experience even when I had never heard those stories. Our Ancestors are the family that came before us and their path of resilience offers us deep comfort and a feeling that we are not alone. Knowing our family story is often transformational and brings healing.

So where does the Self Love come in?

...When we go through this process we begin to understand that we have been holding the pain of our ancestors along our journey in this life. That some of the feelings we are experiencing are not ours to carry. When you are frozen in the fear of moving forward, looking back can be grounding. It is a way to understand what you know to be true. You can’t know the future right now but looking back we can discover the past, our ancestors, our family that came before us. It allows you to understand the process of grief. It is taking a spiritual journey to understand their lives, their strength, and their resilience. It will bring comfort and healing. Ancestral Healing is a pathway to understanding the grief you are feeling. It is the beginning of the Ancestral Healing process that can bring peace and forgiveness along with the knowledge that we also carry the blessings of our Ancestors.

And where there is healing there is Self Love


Bernadette Thompson with Her Nation Magazine
Bernadette Thompson | Tell Me Our Story Genealogy & Ancestral Healing

Meet the expert:

Bernadette Thompson owner of Tell Me Our Story Genealogy & Ancestral Healing, is a genealogist focused on Ancestral Healing. Her education and professional training are working with those who have experienced grief and trauma. Additionally through the University of Vermont, she is certified as an End-of-Life Doula helping individuals and families going through the grieving process to understand the mind, body, and spirit connection of grief. 

Dive deeper into her wealth of knowledge:



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