The Shame of War

ancestral healing generational trauma inherited trauma shame war trauma Jun 08, 2023

Over most of our families lies a blanket of shame created from generational military service or civilian participation in times of war, whether that participation is chosen or not. This blanket is often unseen, invisible, but often felt by some in the family. This shame energy may manifest in various, often decontextualized ways through the family. It may be felt by those who are more empathic or spiritually connected than other family members.

How Is Shame Energy Created in Times of War?

Soldiers and civilians went against the teachings of God or their religion. Many stories have been told about men sent to fight who grew up hearing Thou Shalt Not Kill, yet kill they had to do. The same for civilians who did things to survive a war that ma have gone against their religious beliefs. When these experiences were not discussed, processed, or integrated, the shame and other emotions can be passed down.

Being "weak", a "coward", or "mentally unable to cope." A lot has been written about the white feathers in World War I and the shaming of both World Wars of men who seemed to be fit for war but were still working and living at home. Men not "measuring up" and "doing their part" because the propaganda everywhere was that men needed to go fight. However, what about those who had essential jobs and needed to remain home? What about those who were disqualified due to a medical or psychological issue but still contributed to the war effort in other ways? How often is this discussed when we do military research on our families - how each participant felt?

Women choosing to have a relationship, an affair, be a mistress, or participate in a sexual act(s) to protect her children or family. This may be most felt and known about because of the stories from World War II where we heard of horizontal collaborators, or those who had sex with the enemy for protection, food, health, or other issues.  In some cases, children were born as a result of the relationship. These children may have not been told of their parentage yet still felt a sense of shame, not belonging, or other low-vibrational emotions they didn't understand. Some children were never told until their mother was at the end of her life, which may have led to a lot of questions about the identify of the parent and child as a result of this new information.

Service members having an affair which may have resulted in the birth of a child in another country. So many stories exist about soldiers visiting a house of ill repute while in military service whether stateside or overseas. In other stories we hear of relationships forming because the men are lonely or they find a woman who needs their help and their desire to help turns into something else. From some of these relationships, children are born which may never know who their father was because he left the country when his service was finished. Through DNA testing today, more children born to American service members and other service members, are identifying their biological families. This creates many emotions for all parties involved, even if the biological father is already deceased.

Shame of being born to a GI father and in-country mother. Great shame, ridicule, banishment, and other things happened to children born in war by a GI father or other country's soldier. This is particularly apparent in Europe during and after World War II where we hear stories of Black American service members having a relationship or fling with a European and creating a biracial child. In Europe post World War II, some of those children were seen as a burden, full of shame, who didn't fit in. The same stories are heard all over the world, especially in Vietnam where more Amerasians are now DNA testing to seek out their biological fathers. Many of those children were shipped to the U.S. after the war to be adopted so they carry even more unprocessed, unintegrated emotions and issues as a result.

Healing the Shame

Shame from these and many other examples of war may manifest in families through silence. Toxic, broken relationships. Abandonment of children or families. In some cases, family members may be kicked out of a family because of the actions of a veteran or civilian in a time of war.

Where there is shame whether created by war or something else, we often find family secrets as well. Silence. Whispers. A felt sense by some that something is off or someone is missing.

Quite often the family healer, through their own healing journey or genealogical or DNA research, will discover the secrets and shame. Then it's a matter of bringing this to the light to look at it, talk about it, connect and heal.

We can heal the family shame many ways. Here are a few:

  • Bring the shame and connected emotions to the light.
  • Learn more about the events or experiences that created the shame and other emotions. View this through the historical lens so you better understand the context.
  • Feel the shame and accompanying emotions without judgment. Thank them and release them.
  • Keep digging. Keep attempting to talk to family about what has happened.
  • Seek professional help or work with an energy healer or ancestral healer to learn more about your family history, bring these issues to the light and release.
  • Consider sharing your story to let others know they aren't alone and can also find closure and heal.

Identifying, addressing and healing from shame associated with war trauma, from veteran service or civilian participation, is crucial for breaking the intergenerational cycle of its toxic and negative effects. Professional support, therapy, ancestral healing, and open communication within the family can play a vital role in facilitating healing and promoting resilience across generations. This healing work may also create space for new connections, new family relationships, and the welcoming of a family member met without shame, through DNA testing.

Additional Resources

Bradshaw, John. Family Secrets. The Path from Shame to Healing.

Bradshaw, John. Healing the Shame that Binds You.

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