I am the result of generations of lives, gifts and challenges passed down through my ancestral lineages. On my father's side, I am second generation to this unceded 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 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. My people were Scottish Celtic and also Germanic. They were long time colonial settlers to the American mid-west, and were afforded many privileges in their new home. My people were strong in spirit, many living as medial beings between worlds and rooted in earth connection and elemental magic. These ways reside in my bones not far from memory. My journey is ongoing in reviving my connection with my ancestors, and reclaiming my inherited traditions and magical practices. 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 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 and place.
To harvest my experiences and sensitivity in a meaningful and life-affirming way, I need to act through its inspiration. This means providing healing 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. 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, 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, 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 my knowledge of grief theory, practice and ritual, Satir Transformational Therapy, trauma-informed support, response-based practice, group process, animist values, Way of Council traditions, inter-generational healing modalities, and energy healing practices, I support others towards renewed vitality and hope.
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 earned a Masters degree from the University of Victoria in 2009 studying with world-renowned Canadian feminist sociologist Dorothy Smith. The following bodies of work and experiences are also significant foundations in my training and approach:
I have been providing emotional/spiritual support to individuals and families through my private practice since 2013
I am a trained practitioner of Ancestral Lineage Healing through Daniel Foor of Ancestral Medicine, offering individual sessions and leading monthly healing circles.
I am the Executive Director and lead facilitator for an amazing charitable organization, Learning Through Loss, and have been facilitating programs since 2008 providing education and support to youth experiencing grief and loss, and training to youth-serving professionals.
I am a support group trainer and facilitator for B.C. Victims of Homicide, providing a safe and healing space for people bereaved by homicide to connect and heal through their unique and tremendous grief, and offering training to professionals across B.C. to facilitate support groups within their communities.
I have worked at Bridges For Women supporting women who have experienced of trauma, violence and abuse to regain their confidence, economic self-sufficiency, and life-affirming choices.
I have supported individuals and their families living with different developmental abilities and traumatic brain injuries to help support their inclusion, connection, and increased quality of life.
I am an Energy Healing Practitioner, having received training through Naramata Center, and facilitated practitioner mentor circles through the University of Victoria.
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.