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Another Ancestor Q&A

…When honoring the dead makes your skin crawl

By Galina Krasskova

[Snip] I was recently contacted by a reader who told me about a friend of hers, who was fascinated by the concept of ancestor veneration, but who also had extreme discomfort at the idea of doing it. . . . What do you do when even the idea of honoring the ancestors is an extremely uncomfortable one?

My initial answer is simple: you persevere. I don’t say that to be harsh. I say it because no practice comes all at once. It took me over ten years of constant work –at least ten years–to get a decent, consistent, ancestor practice going. It was hard! I had the same level of discomfort and even aversion to the whole thing at first as my reader’s friend. More than once I wanted to scrap the whole thing and when I began fumbling my way into honoring the dead, it was more out of a sense of duty, of obligation, of the knowledge that it was something i should be doing (and with more than a little resentment at times) rather than any love for the ancestors or true comprehension of how vital that devotional connection is that motivated me. Nor was sorting myself out easy. It was worthwhile and it’s enriched my spiritual life immeasurably but it was not in any way easy. In my case, the problem was largely that I was disconnected from my biological family. I resented for a very long time the idea of honoring them. I didn’t know why it was important. I felt no particular connection, save with my maternal grandmother who was at times strongly present. It took as much sorting out. dealing with, and coming to terms with much of the discord with my living family as it did learning to engage with my dead family members. None of that was a quick process. So when I say ‘persevere,’ I’m speaking from very personal experience.

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