Ancestor Veneration

Sometimes I wonder how good of a descendant I am. It’s one of those random thoughts that pops up whenever someone is discussing ancestor veneration and honoring their deceased family. I like some of my family who have passed on. But then I think about the family I have that are old…and given family health history, some of these people are likely to die sometime within the next few to ten years. (I am not wishing any of them shuffle off the mortal coil any sooner, I just am highly aware of my family’s health history and life expectancy)

See…I have in particular 2 relatives who I have no connection with. Both of them “love” me, I guess. I could never say for sure, if I’m honest. One is just completely gone from my life, and puts no effort into trying to get to know me, or know who I am, even when I spent years trying to get close to him. The other one, he ripped our relationship apart pretty well in the last few months. Actually, this one, I have no desire to ever speak to him again after a few things he did to my mom and my aunt. I can tolerate a lot done to me, but if you hurt my family–even if you also are family–there will be backlash.

Which is difficult. Because these are my only 2 remaining grandfathers. My other grandpa passed away 10 years ago now, but him I like, and I would never mind honoring. He passes into the ranks along with my beloved grandma who passed away 5 years ago, and my other deceased relatives that I would be willing to honor and remember fondly. Those are the ones that I want to think of when I consider ancestor veneration.

But…it’s complicated. Because I have to admit that there are 2 people alive right now that I cannot consider ever wanting to venerate. And there are some deceased family members, my ancestors, that I also cannot and have no desire to honor for reasons of things they did to my family while they were alive. None of that would bother me — except I kind of feel like I shouldn’t have such lines. Because a lot of people talk about honoring all their ancestors. I don’t see a lot about people online who admit or talk about how they only honor a specific, selective and small group of ancestors. So I feel a bit awkward admitting to this. I don’t know if it’s even really a thing. I don’t see why it couldn’t be, but it does seem a bit out of place at times. It makes for interesting thoughts in my mind.

That’s why ancestor veneration is difficult for me. I know what I want to do…but then I struggle with the fact that I want to culture a relationship with some of my beloved ancestors, and I want to definitively shut out others. And then, there’s the admittance that I know for a fact that I’m choosing to openly and totally cut other relatives out of the consideration preemptively. Which will probably prove awkward with at least 1 of my 2 grandfathers, because he’s outwardly always talking about family and how important it is…which his highly hypocritical considering how he acts.

It’s just one of those minor little things that clatters about in my head. I don’t really intend to go against my own instincts and wishes. So I’ll honor who I want, and not honor those I choose not to. But it is a thought. And one that I don’t know if I’m really alone with or not.


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I'm a bibliophile who loves collecting books. Definite cat person. Amateur historian and major geek, who loves all things Tolkien and Star Trek. I'm also fluent in German.

2 thoughts on “Ancestor Veneration

  1. You’re not the only one with difficulty here. I have a hard time with ancestor veneration because I believe in reincarnation. If I were to leave offerings and such, would they know? Are they in new bodies or still waiting for rebirth? I mean, if a descendant of mine (meaning a past incarnation of mine’s descendant) venerates that past me, I’m not going to know about it. I’m here on Earth, with no freaking clue! Haha! What I end up doing is holding space in my heart for my loved ones who have passed. I remember who they were in my life and what they taught me. I have keepsakes, I have photos on my walls. My “long time ago” ancestors… it’s a bit difficult to do that. I’m almost certain they’ve been reborn by now. But I did a lot of genealogy over the years. I have their names recorded in the family tree. To properly venerate them in a formal sense, though, is where I can’t see the point. They probably won’t even realize if I do it. Does it make me a terrible person? Maybe, to some people.

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  2. I can understand your feelings. My paternal Grandmother is the iffy one for me. She obviously had favourites — and my Mother and her two daughters did not make the list. Besides, she was a hypocrite of the first order. My sister and I were the only 2 of the 4 grand-daughters to achieve multiple graduate degrees (one of the others never went to college, the other went in her 30’s as a result of a legacy from her late boyfriend — I guess my uncle who was a fundy minister didn’t believe in women’s education; Joy was just drifty). It is awful that they burnt bridges; however, they are not dead yet. My Mother even finally admitted that she was an idiot with me most of time as I was growing up. (She didn’t understand a genius-level child. I’m not boasting; but, I did have stronger understandings of many things and was very bored in school.) She’s gone now; but, I am glad we made peace.


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