The Neanderthal Paradox - Journey to the Past
We have always—from the time of Neanderthals, even, anthropologists suggest—honored the body of the person who died through the moment it was laid in its final resting place. The body of the person who died was the focal part of the entire funeral process, from the procession into the church to the procession out of the church to the procession to the cemetery through to the burial.
In recent decades, conversely, the trend has been toward body-absent funeral ceremonies.
Today, bodies are often cremated immediately, often without loved ones having spent time with them or even having looked at them beforehand. While historically we understood the essential, universal need to honor and affirm the life of the person who died with the body present throughout the entire funeral process, now the guest of honor is often missing in action.
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I believe the more time you spent bearing witness to and even feeling the fact of their death with your own two hands, the more deeply you were able to acknowledge the reality of their death. Being honest with yourself about your grief is one way you continue to say hello. Remember, grief is what you think and fill on the inside after you experience a loss. Find a place to be quiet and alone with your thoughts and feelings. In these moments of solitude, learn to check in with yourself about the death.
Look your grief in the face and say hello to it. Instead, we must awaken to the truth of our own thoughts and feelings.
We must, in other words, say hello to them. The next level of hello after a death is the expression of the authentic thoughts and feelings you have allowed to surface. Expressing grief is called mourning, and mourning is essential to your eventual healing. And learning to express your grief—especially if you are not naturally comfortable with sharing your innermost thoughts and feelings—is how you say hello to the need to mourn.
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It is the coming out with our truth. I loved and I lost. Now I am broken. World, say hello to my inner experience of grief. Grief, say hello to the world.
After the death of someone loved, we are different than we were before the death. We are injured, and while we can work to heal the injury, it will forever leave a scar that marks both the love and the loss. Along the way, say hello to the new you. You see, your self-identity will change. Your personal identity, or self-perception, is the result of the ongoing process of establishing a sense of who you are.
Part of your self-identity comes from the relationships you have with other people. When someone with whom you have a relationship dies, your self-identity, or the way you see yourself, naturally changes. A death often requires you to take on new roles that had been filled by the person who died. You confront your changed identity every time you do something that used to be done by or with the person who died. The person who died was a part of you. This death means you mourn a loss not only outside of yourself, but inside of yourself as well. I often say that we love from the outside in, but we mourn from the inside out.
Grief never truly ends because love never ends. After someone we love dies, we step through a doorway into a new reality, but we never fully close and lock the door behind us. No, you do not forget, get over, resolve, or recover from the death, but you become reconciled to it. With reconciliation comes a renewed sense of energy and confidence and a capacity to become re-involved in the activities of living.
There is also an acknowledgment that pain and grief are difficult, yet necessary, parts of life. You will find that as you achieve reconciliation, the sharp, ever-present pain of grief will give rise to a renewed sense of meaning and purpose. Your feelings of loss will not completely disappear, yet they will soften, and the intense pangs of grief will become less frequent. The members of the Maritime Archaic tradition created the oldest known burial mounds in North America dating to 7, YBP and subsisted upon coastal marine resources.
Approximately 3, YBP they seem to have abandoned Newfoundland, either in response to the appearance of Paleo-Inuit in the region or because of climate changes. The Beothuk encountered European settlers in AD, and in response to their presence gradually moved to the interior of the island, where their populations declined. The last known Beothuk, Shanawdithit, died of tuberculosis in captivity in By analyzing mitochondrial haplogroups groups of closely related maternal lineages present within individuals from all three populations, Dugan et al.
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This happens to be one of the most fundamental questions that arises when studying the past: do cultural changes in the archaeological record of a region represent the arrival of new groups, or did one group of people living in the same region over time adopt new cultural practices and technologies from others? In the case of Newfoundland, the three groups were genetically distinct; they do not share any maternal haplogroups except for haplogroup X2a, lineages of which were found in both the Maritime Archaic and Beothuk. The presence of haplogroup X2a in North American populations has sometimes been cited as evidence for European ancestry in ancient Americans.
Apart from that single exception, the Maritime Archaic, Paleo-Inuit, and Beothuk are clearly genetically distinctive from one another.
While they indicate that the groups are genetically different from each other, does that mean that there was no shared ancestry between them at all? I hope that the authors of this study will follow up with analyses of complete genomes from these ancient individuals, as there is a great deal more to be learned by looking more deeply at their ancestry. As this study shows, we can learn a lot about the past by characterizing the genomes of ancient and contemporary peoples.
This paper by Duggen et al. While writing up this article, I was appalled although not surprised that there is at least one personal ancestry testing company that has made the claim that they can help you determine whether or not you are Beothuk based on your DNA.
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First, this is because there simply are no currently known genetic markers that allow us to identify individual tribes or nations; although we see geographically patterned genetic variation throughout the Americas in ancient and contemporary populations which allows us to differentiate them as done in this study , genetic lineages are not tribal or nation-specific. For more in-depth discussions of the issues regarding genetics and Native American identity, see here and here and the reading below.
Duggan AT et al.
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