What Professional Genealogy Education Never Taught MeJan 31, 2022
A little background.......
I have been a genealogical research for over 25 years. In 2010 I started a business which after a couple years shifted to 99% WWI/WWII/Korea/Vietnam military research, writing, and teaching. I took ProGen. I participated in numerous local classes, genealogical society meetings, local and national conferences. I spoke at many local and a few national conferences, the last being RootsTech 2018 where I was invited to give four military programs.
In all my professional education or personal education, I was never taught how to spiritually or emotionally support clients when I had to deliver bad or shocking news. I was taught to do the work, deliver the report and documents and answer follow-up questions. I had to learn this on my own as I moved down my own spiritual healing path for myself and my ancestors.
Has this changed in the genealogy professional education since I stopped taking classes and taught myself how to do 20th century military research? Maybe but from my observations, most professionals consider this kind of support taboo because it's "therapy". But really, it is not therapy.
What Changed In My Professional Work?
When did this level of support become important to me? Honestly, it started to sneak into my work early on with a local Italian-American genealogy client I have worked with for 10+ years. He's always willing to exchange ideas and allow for some support.
With the military work it was clear I had to fully step into this support in 2017 when clients began showing up asking for healing and emotional support. They had questions that were not the usual "facts" we find.
Why was my dad so ........ [angry, abusive, emotionally withdrawn, why did he leave us? What created his mental health issues?]
What happened to my brother and his death that cause the family to ....... [never say his name again. Carry grief that was never healed, even a little. Caused my parents to divorce or the family to fracture.]
What was my mother or grandmother's war experience that caused her to withdraw or leave us or have mental health issues? What happened to the baby she had when she was discharged?
Why did my dad have to serve? What purpose did HE specifically serve during the war? I need to honor his memory. I need to preserve his legacy. I need to heal myself for the grief I carry because he was [angry, abusive, alcoholic, left us, etc.]
When the clients began asking for help, it was time for me to bring out my personal empathic gifts to a wider audience.
How Did I Support My Clients?
- In difficult cases where shocking and (likely) unknown information was discovered or the client specifically asked for healing, we had either a phone call or Zoom meeting to discuss the information discovered.
- Prior to those meetings I made sure to clear my own energy, create new protective boundaries, and ground my energy. I also called in my spirit guides, angels, Goddesses, and support team for assistance.
- In those meetings I gently explained the information discovered. In one case where it was found that the mother who served had a baby that no one knew about, this was particularly important.
- I hold space. This means to present the information and then pause. Open space for them to mentally process what I just said. Then to ask what questions they have and start answering them the best I can based on the information I have at that moment. I hold more space.
- When necessary, I provide additional resource both in my report and verbally so the client can ask questions. In the case of the mother who had the unknown baby, I located specific genealogical researchers in the area where the woman lived, who are familiar with local records and adoption laws. There were other people and resources suggested as well.
- I continue to hold space as more questions are asked or the client tries to process our conversation. I let them know they can email with other questions and if they need additional support, I offer private facilitation sessions where we can dig deeper into this on an energetic/spiritual level. Do some energy healing and see what else comes through.
- Then I wait to see how the client wishes to proceed. In military research, I do those projects in two parts so we get an accurate history of the service member. Some clients need a break before we move to the second part, to process and talk to family.
For clients who are spiritual (and yes some do talk to me about this), I offer book or website resources that might support their processing. When it feels right, I do also suggest they contact a mental health professional for support. Sometimes what we discover about a soldier's experience is so traumatic that the descendant (client) needs that level of support.
How Do I Support Myself?
When we are empathic, a medium, walking the spiritual healing path, it is important we are not always GIVING GIVING GIVING to others. We MUST take care of ourselves. How do I do this?
- I clear my energy at least twice a day - in the morning shower and at bedtime. When I've had a heavy energy day I will also do it during the day.
- I add protective energy boundaries around myself, my space, my home so I do not pick up everyone's energy.
- Self-Care to release old energies also include journaling, salt baths, crystals, meditation, mindfulness, embodied movement, working with my ancestors at my altar.
- I continue self-education on topics like: PTSD, Mindfulness, Somatic healing, Inherited/Collective Trauma, veteran mental health, soul contracts, family secrets, shame, and so many related topics.
- I also take time for myself where I do not think about work, research, clients, anything. I also take time to play, laugh, and shake things up.
Would You Like To Learn More?
We all carry the unprocessed, ignored, shoved down trauma of our ancestors. It affects us in different ways. It is my perspective that we should provide some sort of support to our clients. Are you ready to support yourself and your clients? I can help!
Do you need private support with this topic? Are you interested in working with your clients in a way that allows you to provide energetic and emotional support? I offer facilitation/coaching sessions where we can work 1-1 on your research and healing.
If you are supporting clients in this way or a similar way and would like to share, you can reach me at [email protected]
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