Constellation Narrative:
Genocide

by Carl Buchheit

A woman had always had a warm relationship with her mother as a person, but had never felt nurtured by, connected to, or truly mothered by her. It was as if the mother had been more of a friend than a mother to her daughter, and the client felt this as a sadness and loss in her life. She particularly wanted to shift this relationship since she had recently become pregnant with her own first child.

The mother’s family had left Poland and emigrated to the United States, fleeing the violent persecutions of Jewish citizens there. The constellation roles included representatives for the client, her mother, and her grandmother.

The grandmother immediately sank down and began looking longingly and sadly at a place on the floor. The client’s mother sat down next to her. The grandmother said she felt she was looking over the edge of something at some horror that she felt compelled to pay attention to. The facilitator intuited (from the history of the family and experience with other similar constellations) that the grandmother could be staring into a mass grave. All the grandmother’s emotional energy and devotion was focused on the bodies in the grave, making her not fully available for the living. This included her not being fully available for mothering her daughter, the client’s mother.

The grandmother indicated that she wanted to shield her daughter from the horror, and, at the same time, felt it was her responsibility always to remember the dead ones. She said that part of her wanted to join them there, as if by doing so she could save them from their fate. Unfortunately, her intense devotional remembrance was keeping the dead ones from passing on peacefully and could do nothing to change what had already happened. She was effectively keeping both herself and her daughter from fully participating in life, since, in honor of, her daughter was not fully living either.

The facilitator then had representatives lie down in the mass grave area. A spokes-representative for the dead ones said to the grandmother, “This is our fate, not yours.” There was no way the grandmother’s devotional attention, no matter how sincere and loving, could change their awful deaths. “Leave it with us,” said the dead one, for all of them.

The grandmother then felt she could relax her vigilance, and she spoke to each one of the dead ones, acknowledging what a great loss it was and her desire to remember. Once the dead were fully seen and acknowledged, one by one, they were able to rest peacefully, and the grandmother could leave the edge of the grave and rejoin the living. The grandmother was then able to be available to her daughter, the client’s mother, who was then able to be lovingly available for her own daughter, the client. She looked her daughter in the eyes as if for the first time and said, “I am your mother.  Now I see you.”

The client reported that her mother emailed unprompted the next day and said that somehow her usual empty feelings were turning into feelings of more fullness and that she was feeling “blessed and more and more connected to life.”

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