Yesterday when I started this blog about the peace I’ve found while getting to know my female ancestors, I had no idea that a few hours after my first post, 17 people would die in yet another school shooting. I had just barely pieced together my little logo (“the ancestress fortress”) on a design web site and inserted pictures of my beloved female ancestors. But I had decided to wait and launch my blog’s big project (the effort that will be spawning recurring blog posts) until after I finish a few genealogy articles I’m working on. Thank heavens for that; now I’ve got the time to focus on family and hug my babies for a while.
Yesterday just before noon, rather than launching my blog’s actual project, I jotted down a short blog post instead. I wanted to have something up on here so the site wasn’t blank. Then I went about the rest of my work-from-home day as a genealogist–that is, I tried to. I think we all struggled with that part after we heard about the shooting.
So even though I’m not launching my blog’s eponymous project yet, I am writing here today to to share some healing words. No–not just words, but actual resources. Because 1) I prefer actions to words after tragedies (having survived them in my own family), and 2) I work in a field that can help bring healing.
Here is how genealogy can help heal our nation right now:
- Family history/genealogy has been scientifically proven to help prevent the sort of behaviors that can lead to the violence we are witnessing. An Emory university study discovered that young people who know their family history/stories are more emotionally stable and less likely to engage in high-risk behaviors.
- Nostalgia–or reminiscing about the past–has medical benefits, according to scientists, so collecting ancestral and personal histories benefits the body as well as the mind.
- Writing one’s personal history leads to increased happiness, according to scientific researchers, so teaching others to collect and preserve their family background or their own life’s experiences can help heal a nation.
Clinical practitioners like Michael White and David Epston published guides for mental health practitioners seeking to integrate family history and personal history writing into their mental health treatment. Here is one guide for those seeking to do so on their own from home:
I hope that we, as a nation, can learn from our history, especially our family history, and find greater healing.
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