I recently created a shadow box of memorable items from my family. In the same week it was completed, I had conversations with several people who shared that they felt younger generations today are becoming less and less interested in items from the past.

Diminished interest in items from our ancestry felt even more pronounced to me after watching the movie Coco – and how it emphasized that people who are forgotten disappear, as if they did not exist. This same point was further highlighted in a “Positive Thoughts Daily” email I received from David Boufford with his quote – “Love never dies with our loved ones, our memories keep their love alive”. (Side note – You can sign up for David’s daily quotes at www.MrPositive.com).

There are different reasons and rationalizations that people use for not wanting ancestral artifacts, including, I…

  • Didn’t know that person
  • Don’t want to hold onto things
  • Have no emotional or personal connection to it
  • Don’t really like that person
  • Want to declutter, not add more “stuff” to my home

In the world of systemic constellations, we see that the emotional DNA we inherit from both sides of our family, up to seven generations back, affects us in our daily lives. The influence is seen in situations related to our careers, money, health, leadership, and much more. We don’t need to know the person to be impacted by them, as I found during a family constellation that involved my maternal great-grandmother who died decades before my birth. The connection I felt was quite powerful!

What are ways we can include and honor our ancestors and/or include important possessions we have inherited from them without cluttering up our homes? Here are a few ideas.

  • Repurpose items – Create a mosaic out of pieces of old china, take the back of a pocket watch and turn it into a necklace, turn a china pitcher into a vase.
  • Transform items –Take the stones out of antique jewelry you dislike and create a piece you love. Then melt the metal to help pay for the new creation.
  • Plant something that grows – If you have nothing specific from the person, add something that grows – a rose bush in your backyard or donate a tree to create a living tribute to your lineage.
  • Create a story – The shadow box I created includes a note about each of the items to honor the owners. I created a bracelet as a way to include family members who passed at an early age.
  • Find a new home for them – Sometimes items can’t be passed on but rather than throw them out, you can find someone else who will treasure them. A friend of mine shared some examples of how she accomplished this:
    • Donated her father’s military uniform and related items, along with detailed documentation to a university library. They were added to the school’s existing collection; supporting students to learn about the past by touching something in the present.
    • Donated her mother’s 10-inch thick scrapbook of clippings, headshots, articles and more about an opera singer to a college who has a study program about this specific artist.
    • Donated fifty years of menus her family collected to a library in Los Angeles who will add them to their existing menu collection, and share them to highlight changes in food styles and prices.

I started my work with systemic constellations in 2004. The insights I’ve gained and the transformations I’ve experienced have deeply reinforced the importance of including and honoring all our ancestors. After all, our first relationships are with our family of origin, the influence of whom impacts our lives in the present.

To learn more about how your family of origin influences you (how you bring your family ancestry into the workplace and your relationships), contact me to schedule a family constellation.

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