Family Ghosts of WarJun 14, 2023
Do the ghosts of war haunt your family? They have mine and many clients I have worked with over the years. The ghosts sometimes appear as an energy of grief and depression that hangs over the family for generations. Sometimes it's the decades old spoken or unspoken rule that you never mention the name of the family's war dead because it would upset grandma or grandpa. Sometimes the ghosts appear as an ancestor who wants to help you create something in life and ask you to help them complete some unfinished business.
Some families may not even realize they have ghosts hanging around impacting the beliefs, behaviors, and patterns that run through a family, often over generations. How can we begin to identify these ghosts of war? What do we do once we have?
What's Showing Up?
One question we should ask is who and what is showing up? Are you able to sense the energy of the ancestor? Do you hear them, see them, feel them? What is that like for you?
When my cousin James Privoznik began showing up in 2012, he felt like a peaceful yet firm energy ready to help me create a military business and shift from genealogy work. James was killed during the Battle of the Bugle on 11 January 1945 and is buried in Luxembourg at the American Battle Monuments Commission Cemetery (ABMC).
At the time he showed up, over Labor Day weekend 2012 when four different people contacted me about him, I had really not paid attention to his life. No one in the family really asked questions about him. Yet there he was, ready to be seen, researched, and spoken to.
A few years ago I had a client that I helped with a book he published about his Missing In Action Uncle. He told me, as many other clients had, that his grandmother never wanted her son's name spoken after he went missing. She was holding so much grief that no one could even use the son's name as the name of a grandchild (although I understand it was used as a middle name). Many families have stories like this and those families carry the energy of those ghosts and their grief over the loss.
So how can we learn more about these ghosts in the family?
Do the Research
The best thing to do is start researching your family and military history to learn more about your family's war dead. If you aren't sure where to begin, book a free consult and less talk about your options. Here are a few other things to begin doing.
- Create a family tree and learn who is in your family. Identify your family's veterans and war dead.
- Obtain the military death files which are the Individual Deceased Personnel Files (IDPFs) for WWI, Korea and Vietnam. For WWI they are called Burial Files. Learn more about these files at my WWII Research & Writing Center website.
- Once you have the IDPF, read through it. Does it contain family letters, vital records, or other materials that tell you how the grief and death of the family's loved one was experienced and felt? How it may have been processed or shoved into a closet? If so, I invite you to sit with that information and feel it in your body. What thoughts, feelings, and emotions rise to be looked at, acknowledged and integrated?
- If your IDPF doesn't have a lot of personal family information, talk to your family members about your ghost of war. What can you learn? What stories exist about their life, service, death, and how (or if) they are remembered?
As we identify who was holding unprocessed grief, what stories were told, what secrets were kept or information withheld, we can begin to heal and release the past.
Explore What You Carry
Finally, you are invited to explore what you carry that is related to the family's ghost of war. Are you living out old beliefs, behaviors, or patterns because of this death? For instance, do you walk on eggshells around certain people because no one was allowed to talk about your family's war dead? Did walking on eggshells become the "norm" in your family after the war when anything came up that might upset mom or dad / grandma or grandpa? Do you enjoy walking on eggshells?
We are in a time of humanity's history where we need to look at the past, bring things to light, and process them. Integrate the lessons and move forward. Sometimes this requires us to ask the harder or more painful questions of our family members. Paying attention to the energy of the family members you speak with helps you know how far to go in the line of questioning and when to stop. It also allows you to feel into where you hold some of these energies.
As the family healer, you may have taken on the job of healing, releasing, and integrating these energies and lessons to help your lineage. This is not always an easy or painless job, but a necessary one. For some, writing and telling those stories for your family or the wider public may be healing. Your stories and experiences may help someone else.
What have you discovered about your family's ghosts of war? Did you tell their stories? Did you help everyone find some peace and closure? Or are the ghosts still hanging around impacting the lives everyone lives?
Write Your Stories of War
Are you ready to write your stories of war? Explore my new writing services, schedule a free consultation to discuss your project, and let's start getting your story on paper today.
Learn More & Explore Some Ghosts of War
These are articles I wrote for my WWII Research & Writing Center website that provide links to IDPFs that demonstrate a family's war grief.
When the Dead Speak. An Unknown at Margraten. John Gordon.
She Powerfully Spoke Her Truth. Nellie and her brother.
A Family's Grief and the Cost of Repatriation. Leaving a son behind.
Women's History Month: A Military Mother. A mother demanded answers to her son's death.
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