I am a queer, cis-gendered woman of Northern European descent who is passionate about reclaiming grief, ritual and ancestral practices towards a deeply relational, kind and sustainable future. On my father's side, I am second generation to this unceded (stolen) Coast Salish land that I now reside. My people were Germanic and Nordic - spread out through current day Sweden, Netherlands, Germany, and migrating down thorough Poland and Ukraine. In recent generations, they were strongly rooted in the Mennonite faith, and their movements and migrations across vast tracks of land and eventually as refugees to Canada were characteristic of facing generational religious persecution. My people loved music, singing, were pragmatic, loyal and strongly rooted in family values. On my mother's side, I am first generation to this land and of Scottish/Irish Celtic, Anglo-Saxon and Germanic heritage. My people were long time colonial settlers to the American mid-west, and were afforded many privileges in their new home of which I am continuing to reconcile both the gifts and burdens of this legacy, in my heart and in my ways of being and relating. My people were strong in spirit, many living in religious and spiritual traditions, and rooted in earth and elemental communion. These ways reside in my bones not far from memory. My journey is ongoing in reviving my connection with my ancestors, reclaiming my inherited traditions and practices, and restoring right relationship with who I am and their legacy. These relationships have sustained me and propelled me further into my soul gifts. For this I am grateful.
For those who reside in my bones and have gifted me these moments, this breath; whenever I am in the presence of that which makes me heart swell and quicken, may this also be an offering to you.
Why Grief? Why Ancestors?
To feel grief is to be deeply connected, and to be deeply connected is to remain tethered to an open heart, to love, to vulnerability and to fierce compassion. I believe these attributes are necessary medicine for the healing and repair so needed in our world. The tumultuous and painful experiences that crack us open into the wild terrain of our hearts, also opens us to the wild terrain of the world. Whether our grief is personal, collective and/or ancestral, it is a form of intimacy which allows our hearts to stay open and responsive to our own needs and to the needs of our wider community. I see grief as one gateway to personal, cultural, and spiritual transformation if tended to with care and dignity.
My training, professional experiences, and own healing through trauma and losses, has equipped me with a profound deepening in my sense of connection, and disconnect, to others and our world. It has also made me aware of how much grief I was carrying that was inherited through unresolved hardships in my ancestral lineages. These experiences have deepened my insight and empathy for others in pain, and for inter-generational wounding and healing. I have always been very attuned to the suffering in our world, and at times in my life, have been overwhelmed and immobilized by global and ecological despair. I believe much of this collective pain and destruction (racism, sexism, colonialism, earth-as-commodity, to name a few) are in part a symptom of unresolved ancestral trauma, and by extension, a disconnection from a sense of belonging, place and relationship.
To harvest my experiences and sensitivity in a meaningful and life-affirming way, I need to act through its inspiration. This means providing healing rituals and grief support in personal, collective and ancestral ways. I am called to be of service by holding spaces of deep connection - with ourselves, with each other, and with those who reside in the other-than-human world (animals, plants, trees, mountains, stone, weather, ancestors, Spirit etc).
The best decision is that all grief be turned into life-promoting grief-based beauty and usefulness. Martin Prechtel
Peace within, Peace between, Peace among. Virginia Satir
The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe. Joanna Macy
Loss has many forms - it can encompass any transition, death, unanticipated experience, or ending in our life. It may encompass the over-whelming pain we feel for events that take place in our world, such as wars, oppression, racism, violence, famine and environmental destruction. It may be unmetabolized pain that has run for generations through our ancestral lineages, waiting to be tended and healed.
We all have the internal resources, wisdom and resilience to survive and grow through experiences of pain. We all need community to witness and help each other heal, because grief is relational. And by community, I include not just our fellow humans, but also the wider field of relations we are a part of with the other-than-human beings. This means my approach to healing is also animist-informed.
I am passionate about creating more collective spaces to gain a healthy understanding of grief and to learn relational, holistic and ritual strategies for health and healing. This includes re-animating our ancestral practices, regardless of how recent or far gone we may have been disconnected from them. I believe it is through our shared experiences of pain and loss, and by providing spaces to share and connect about these things, that we can nourish a deep sense of well-being - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually, both as individuals and as a collective global community. When we bring awareness to our personal relationship to loss and grief in our own lives, and how our ancestral inheritance informs this in both beautiful and challenging ways to be reconciled, we can then navigate through the world with others in a more empowered and compassionate way. To heal ourselves is to heal our world.
You cannot "fix" the world, but you can take part in its self-healing. Healing wounded relationships within you and between you is integral to the healing of our world. Joanna Macy
Suffering and joy teach us, if we allow them, how to make the leap of empathy, which transports us into the soul and heart of another person. Fritz William
Whether supporting an individual, a family, or facilitating a community experience, I recognize people in their energetic and holistic selves - mental, emotional, physical/somatic, social, cultural, and spiritual. I also recognize the ongoing impacts of colonialism, racism, sexism, and other cultural wounds that work to erase the diversity of human experience and expression.
Through experiences of loss, transition, and change we can find ourselves navigating a new world and new identity. Along with this, our feelings, perceptions, expectations and deep yearnings can be shaken up. We can be left questioning who we are and how we can regain our vibrant life-force while still honoring our sadness and expressions of grief and love.
Combining what I have learned from my lived experiences and personal healing work, alongside being a somatic intuitive, my approach is informed by training in grief theory, practice and ritual, Satir Transformational Therapy, NeuroAffective Relational Model of healing complex trauma, attachment and somatics, group process, animist values, Way of Council traditions, ancestral lineage repair, energy healing practices, and the ongoing reclamation of my ancestral animist ritual traditions.
Give sorrow words! The grief that does not speak Whispers to the overfull heart And bids it break. Shakespeare
Education, Training, and Professional Background
I have been providing emotional, spiritual and ritual grief support, facilitation and training to individuals, families, and organizations since 2010. The following mentors, teachers and bodies of work are significant in my (past and ongoing) training and approach:
Lara Veleda Vesta - Old Norse, Germanic and Anglo-Saxon ancestral ritual and myth (current)
Profound gratitude to all the folks who have trusted me with their pain, vulnerability, grief and healing process; they have all been significant teachers.
A little more about what informs my support work...
I have an extensive and diverse professional background in organizational leadership, program development/delivery, front-line support work, group facilitation, teaching, policy and research, somatic and intuitive healing modalities, and performance arts. All of these experiences inform my approaches to healing, and gift me with a holistic and systems approach to change and healing. My path has been anything but a straight line, although it has always been heart-led and intuitively guided.
I have been an archaeologist, partaking in research and excavation in both rural China and the west coast of Canada. I have been an ESL teacher for youth and adults. I have been a support worker for individuals and their families living with different developmental abilities and traumatic brain injuries. I have been an energy healing practitioner supporting people with their subtle body health. I have been a researcher on a provincial strategy to increase access to support for folks living with disabilities. I have been a program developer for both local and national initiatives for women leaving abuse and violence to regain economic self-sufficiency. I have been an executive director of a charitable non-profit organization providing grief education and loss support groups to youth. I have been a support group facilitator for folks healing through the traumatic loss of homicide.
I earned a Masters degree in health and social policy and practice from the University of Victoria in 2009. During this time I had the great fortune to study closely with world-renowned Canadian feminist sociologist Dorothy Smith. My research took a critical look at the structural and institutional processes of 'quality assurance' in social services which minimize and make invisible the actual lived experiences and needs of those being served. My research has been published as a chapter in an international compilation that informs Canadian undergraduate programs in Sociology.
Becoming skillful at digesting our grief makes us a source of reassurance and stability for the wider community. Francis Weller
I am grateful to live and work on the unceded ancestral lands of the Coast Salish Lekwungen-speaking people.