Uncovering the Past for a Better Future: An Interview with Bernadette Thompson

An Interview by Natalie Ruiz

Natalie Ruiz
7 min readMay 6, 2024
Bernadette Thompson, Founder of Tell Me Our Story, Genealogy & Ancestral Healing

As part of my Powerful Women Interview Series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Bernadette Thompson, Founder of Tell Me Our Story, Genealogy & Ancestral Healing. Bernadette shares her unique journey of using genealogy and ancestral healing to guide individuals through grief and trauma.

With a background in grief and trauma therapy, Bernadette’s approach is rooted in uncovering ancestral stories and fostering spiritual connections. This conversation delves into how ancestral healing can help people understand their past, navigate grief, and find deeper meaning in their present lives. Join us as we explore Bernadette’s transformative work and the healing power of genealogy.

Thank you so much for connecting with me and sharing your story. I’m so excited to get started! Tell me about what you do professionally:

I am the owner of Tell Me Our Story, Genealogy & Ancestral Healing. I am a genealogist trained in Grief and Trauma, focusing on Ancestral healing. I am a guide and a coach. I introduce different ways to look at and find healing from grief and trauma through the lens of understanding Ancestral Trauma and Ancestral Healing. Using the tools of genealogy, I bring the knowledge, understanding, and compassion of your Ancestral past, by uncovering the stories of your ancestors. Healing comes as you begin to understand some of the emotions you have been carrying that have been passed down, and as you discover the deep spiritual connection and guidance you receive from your ancestors.

I have a unique perspective on Ancestral healing. My experience of working for years with a team of mental health professionals and Middle School students who have experienced trauma has given me a deep understanding of trauma reactions and trauma response. More recently, as an Elder Care Manager and certified End-of-Life Doula, I have guided families through many end-of-life decisions and challenges, as well as the mind, body, and spirit side of grief.

How did you get into this?

I had been interested in ancestry and ancestral healing for many years. Still, it was through the loss of my husband six years ago after a very difficult four-year battle with alcoholism that I began to understand more. My experience in understanding the importance of knowing our ancestral past and grief and trauma helped me on my journey to healing. Science now tells us trauma our ancestors experienced can be passed down through changes in our genes from generation to generation.

As a genealogist, I know discovering the stories of our ancestors can uncover ancestral traumas and give you a deeper understanding of how that may affect you in this life. I help them understand in layman’s terms the science of how trauma can be passed down through our DNA, but also help them with the knowledge that along with the traumas our ancestors may have experienced, there were triumphs and resilience that were passed down. It can help them in their healing today. Our Ancestors are the family that came before us, and their path of resilience offers us deep comfort and a feeling that we are not alone.

That is so interesting! What do you love about it?

What I love is how transformational the healing is when someone begins to open up to their Ancestral past. We are deeply connected to our ancestors. Their DNA is physically a part of us, and spiritually, they are our guides. When you look back, you understand more about who you are and where you came from and feel the connections. Many times we find a connection with a specific ancestor who may have traveled a similar road as you have. All of this opens you up to healing. It is where we see some of the traumas they have experienced. Genealogy allows us to discover the stories of our ancestors that come alive through the documents, and records that can be found. Those discoveries give a window into their struggles and trauma and their grieving process, allowing you to see their strength and resilience. Moving through trauma and grief is very personal, as personal as your thumbprint. No two people grieve alike. It is often a spiritual journey that helps us move forward. Ancestral Healing is a part of that journey.

Why is this work important to you?

As someone who has experienced deep grief and trauma, I know how difficult it is to move forward. You find yourself stuck, and so it is my deep desire to meet people where they are on their journey and continue to help them find their way to healing, including the spiritually transformational experiences of Ancestral Healing.

Clearly, you’re thriving; your passion is coming through loud and clear! What makes you so great at this?

I love this question. As a genealogist, I have always had a very intuitive side to discovering the ancestors' records, documents, and stories to build ancestral trees. It is like putting a puzzle together. Many pieces look alike but only one fits. But it is also my intuitive side, and my experience and training in grief and trauma, that allowed me to guide my clients to feel the healing that happens as they uncover their stories. I see my clients’ healing, forgiveness, and spiritual connections grow as we work together. It has become a calling, one that I love.

What is the most challenging part of your work?

What I do is unique. The challenging part of the work is explaining in a short, quick conversation the incredible transformation that this work can have on those who are struggling. I am grateful for this interview as it allows me to help people understand better how they, or someone they love, can move forward.

What kind of an impact do you hope to make through your actions?

There are so many impacts I hope to make. I want to guide people to learn more about themselves so they can heal. I also want to open up to the idea that, along with our ancestors, we are spiritual beings. We are not meant to struggle through our lives. And wherever you are in your life, there is more to come. And that you are surrounded by love, guidance, and healing energy every step of the way.

I am a big reader — well, I am more of an audiobook person nowadays. In any case, I love talking about great reads. What is one of your favorite books?

It is very hard to choose a book, but I remember that as I was opening up to a more spiritual side, this book gave me great guidance. It is not a new book; The Untethered Soul, The Journey Beyond Yourself, by Michael A. Singer, was published in 2007. It is also on audio!

If you could talk to your younger self, what would you say?

Dream big. Ask yourself, what would I love? And let the dream guide you. You are not meant to live small or struggle. You have a purpose. Listen to the guidance that surrounds you. Continue to grow and share with the World what you know to be true.

Do you have a favorite quote? What does it mean to you?

“ Closing my eyes to connect with my roots, I sense the wisdom of my ancestors, And my Grandmother smiles” ~ The Gossamer Path

It reminds me that I am never alone. I am guided and loved in every step I take.

Outside of work, what do you love doing? What lights you up?

I love walking and hiking, I love yoga and Kayaking.

I believe there is power in having big dreams and audacious goals, and lately, I have been pushing myself and everyone I know to speak them out loud… Do you have any dreams or goals you want to go on record about here?

My big Dream is to truly bring this healing journey to many, many more people, to bring it to a bigger stage. I want people to understand even in their hardest hours they are not alone, they are not meant to carry heavy loads, and that we are surrounded by spiritual love and ancestral guidance. It is a gateway to understanding ourselves as spiritual beings and to expand in ways we never imagined.

Amazing! Thank you so much for sharing that with me.

Ok, now I for the big question of the interview! What is the biggest lesson you have learned through your life and career journey?

That it is a journey, and there is wisdom in all of the experiences I have had. We all have a story we imagined about our lives and when that story changes it often stops us. The lesson I have learned is there is another path, another story, one of expansion and fuller expression of this life we are here to lead. We can honor our grief but also grow through it. As an entrepreneur, I am incredibly proud of what I have been guided to create and truly grateful for the clients I have been able to serve. I know deep grief and pain and I know I will continue to guide others on their path.

Finally, what makes you a powerful woman?

I think a powerful woman is someone who continues to learn and grow, and in that, she is setting an example for others to follow. In my own experience of grief and trauma, I allowed myself to be vulnerable, to dream bigger, to learn more, to seek more, and to grow more. In that process, I have received wisdom and guidance that I can now share with others.

How can we support you?

Thank you so much for sharing your story and insights! I know our readers are going to love learning more about you!

Connect + Follow:

www.tellmeourstory.com , www.facebook.com/TellMeOurStory , www.linkedin.com/in/bernadette-obrien-thompson/ , www.instagram.com/tellmeourstoryancestralhealing/

🌸 About the Author:

Natalie Ruiz is the CEO of AnswerConnect and often says that her path to success has been unconventional, which fuels her to continue to challenge assumptions about what work, success, and the concept of balance in life look like.

Natalie is an award-winning executive recognized as Female Executive of the Year and for Women Helping Women by the Stevie Award Association and a Woman of Influence by the Portland Business Journal.

Outside of her day job, she volunteers, speaks on international stages, lends her voice and words to podcasts and publications, and seeks to leave people and places better than she finds them in all that she does.

Connect with Natalie here: on Medium, on LinkedIn, and Instagram

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Natalie Ruiz

Tech CEO. Mom. Non-Profit Board Member. Working to normalize belonging at work. Living in gratitude. Trying to leave people and places better than I find them.