Ancestral grief comes in acknowledgment of the trauma that preceded us - the grief in acknowledging the genocides experienced by our respective lineages.
Grief manifests in many different ways. Some of us are acutely aware of the trauma within our respective lineages and the resulting grief. Some of us are not. Some of us haven't become aware of how much we have been cut off from, because the veils of lies and programming are thick. Awakening to the awareness of the presence of this grief- is an important step in our individual and collective healing.
Within the modern world, the postpartum period -for some- is the first time they come into contact with this profound grief. As in: "It's not supposed to be like this. Why does motherhood feel like such a fractured/wounded reality? Where is all that should be holding me in this profoundly challenging and beautiful time? Where are the Aunties? The Grandmothers? The community? The songs?" And although we may not have thought of it like this before - I see that part of what is being labeled 'perinatal mood disorders,' is an acute awareness of ANCESTRAL GRIEF. For some, the awareness of this GRIEF surfaces for the first time postpartum, when the illusion of modern, individualistic reality is obliterated.
By naming it as this: ANCESTRAL GRIEF, we can begin to re-orient ourselves. In this re-orientation, the deep sadness that many modern Mothers feel postpartum is de-personalized. In this de-personalization, we liberate ourselves from the shame and self-judgement from thoughts like: "What is wrong with ME for feeling like THIS."
This reorientation is a beginning place -for some- to healing.
Recognizing that ALL lineages have ancestral trauma to heal, is not negating the reality of systemic racism as a result of colonization. White supremacy forms the foundation of institutions throughout the world and has leeched into the consciousness of people throughout the world- the collective played on false-beliefs of superiority and inferiority. Simultaneously, it is also true that at this point in time- each race of humankind has passed through a genocide.
We are the living manifestations of those who came before us. ALL of humanity has ancestors. ALL of humanity is indigenous to Mother Earth. ALL of humanity comes from a history of profoundly rich, deep traditions. Forgetting this, is a large part of our collective, current problems.
My adopted Father taught me that a tradition is anything that has been with the people for over 100 years. Traditions come to the people in many ways. One way that I am certain that traditions come to the people, is THROUGH the physiologic design of women's bodies.
Postpartum traditions from around the world are virtually identical because they CAME FROM an understanding of women's physiologic needs postpartum for optimal healing. Many traditional ceremonies mirror the menstrual cycle - represent conception - create a birth experience. These ways of caring for LIFE come from our biologic design as women.
When we come to understand this design as women, and RESPECT this design through proper tending, we are LIVING our traditions.
How do we take care of ourselves during our bleeding time each month? What kind of care are we seeking and from whom during pregnancy/labor/birth? What have we mapped out for ourselves in the postpartum period? What is the FAMILY CULTURE we are creating, knowing that young children learn by living EXAMPLES? What 'medical authorities' do we relinquish our power to? How do we assume the power and responsibility for our roles as MOTHER?
We can never be severed from these traditional ways because they live WITHIN us, and they are exalted or diminished by our awareness and our choices. When we understand it like this, it serves as a healing balm to GRIEF we may feel- for that which is said to be 'missing.'
Our physiology offers to us a map of what is required to thrive. This is true in ALL of life, and especially potent during the childbearing continuum. In this re-membrance, individual healing happens, lineage healing happens and collective healing happens.
Rachelle Garcia Seliga, CPM
photo credit of newborn families to: Elliana Allon of @elliana_allon