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Death and Celebration of Our Ancestors

Resilience | 3 comments

In the pre-Christian Irish tradition of Samhain, October 31st is a time to death and celebration, honouring our Ancestors. We remember and celebrate your ancestors, and a time when the dead are said to be able to co-exist most easily with us. In the Ojibwe tradition, it is also a time to remember your ancestors. In both traditions, we feed the spirits. More about that later.

First I want to share with you a part of my story that not all of you have heard, especially if you’re new to my community. It isn’t for the faint of heart, so you might want to get some tissues. Tears are coming down as I write this.

I just… I put out a lot of articles and this is a time when I just want to get really down and real with you all. I want you know who is underneath all of this perky, quirky inspiration, spiritual connection, healing and business success stuff that I’m always putting out there.

Way back in 1984 on November 4th, my dad died in his sleep of a massive heart attack. I found him. I guess I was 18. My mom was already gone – she had committed suicide when I was 15. It was a weird, messed up time for me. I still sometimes get the dates wrong because I was so not present in my body during those years.

I pretty much went numb after that. I remember it really hitting me when I received my very first “Orphan’s Benefits Cheque” from the government. I remember wondering what that even meant.

We weren’t alone after that, me and my brother. One of my uncles and aunts were to take us. But there was no grieving, no counseling or emotional support, nothing to help me feel better. And with my uncle working overseas constantly, my aunt was pretty much a single mom – with her 2 kids and then us to add on.

I just had a couple of close friends, who are still in my world, and another close friend who took total advantage of my kindness, naivety and vulnerability (my first unhealthy relationship of many to come). I was treated like a tenant in this house full of people who wanted to sweep it all under the rug and go on as if nothing had happened. Meanwhile, when my aunt asked me to wake up my brother every morning, I couldn’t do it… because I was terrified I would find him dead too, like I had found my dad.

Thank the Spirits I moved to Toronto in the spring of 1985, and so began my professional music career, my no-longer-teenage rebel years, and a long painful journey that took me back into my grief, poverty and a string of unhealthy relationships, and then finally in my mid-30’s on my healing path to wholeness.

The reason I wanted to share this with you is because I want you to know that ANYTHING is possible, and if I can change my life and become joyful, successful, prosperous, spiritually fulfilled and on purpose, then I KNOW you can too.

So I invite you to take October 31st as a time of celebration of life as well as honouring the dead, and even do your own private feast for your higher realms support team.

It is said (and I totally feel and know this is true) that the veils between the living and the dead are thinnest that evening. This is why I use it as a time to really celebrate not only my ancestors and my parents and grandparents who, except for my biological grandma Sadie, are all gone – but I celebrate ALL of the beings from the higher realms who support me.

So this is just a reminder to you, to maybe use this powerful time as an opportunity to let go a little more and to give yourself permission to connect deeply and gratefully with your own “higher realms support team.”

Now… this is not to say I don’t enjoy Halloween too. But my daughter no longer needs me to walk her down the street and carry her candy lol. She is going out with her boyfriend, dressed up creepily just for the fun of it, and walking down the street looking scary, while her pumpkin sits on our balcony along with a small plate of food for the spirits.

So Happy whatever-you-celebrate at this time, and remember, we have choices.

We can use our stories as excuses for not going for what we want… or we can tap into the power within our story and reach out for support – human help and higher realms support – to do whatever we set your mind, heart and spirit to, while we create and live our new story.


Brenda MacIntyre, Medicine Song Woman

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  1. Misty Rose Peterson

    First of all, I want to say chi-miigwech for sharing your story, I know it’s hard. It’s actually a really big inspiration for me to read other people’s success after being hit with such a hard blow. I am 27 years old right now, but when I was 25, I had lost both my parents. One right after the other. I had been in Montreal attending school for a year before that, and I was on summer break. My mother had gotten sick very suddenly, and passed two weeks later. My father, I believe, honestly died of a broken heart not even two months later. This was very unexpected, and like you, I was very numb for a long time. I even withdrew from school. It’s been just over two years now and it is still just as bittersweet. There are days I still wonder if I can still make it all work and go on with life on my own, then I remind myself that I have been and am still here. Like you said before, it’s easy to forget who you are. All our stories may be different, but one thing that is constant is that we are never alone. Thank you again for sharing this story, I really appreciate it, and even though it is sad, it uplifted my spirits and gave me that glimmer of hope! Sometimes, that is the only reminder we need 🙂 thank you!

    • brendamacintyre

      Misty Rose,

      Wow, I am so sorry for your losses!

      I am not surprised you withdrew from school – that’s exactly what I did… after failing a couple of classes and falling seriously behind in most of the others. It was just way too overwhelming to continue with college and deal with all that grief.

      Yes, you are still here… and you have a powerful purpose that will unfold for you, and probably not too long from now.

      You have a lot of courage and strength to be able to share about this only 2 years after, and I want to honour you for that.

      Hang in there and if there’s anything I could say to you, it would be don’t be afraid to reach out for support to get through the grief. I didn’t have that until years down the road, and so it took me a long time to come back to myself and heal. But for you, it can be easier.

      Love & Blessings to you,

      • Misty Rose Peterson

        Miigwech Brenda!! I have been told many a time that I have a purpose here and I just need to remember that. Things are looking up, I’m almost done college now and am finding what it is I truly want to do in my life. I love reading these articles and I love all the positive posts you always have, really helps to keep me, and others, aligned! So I want to honour you for that. Thank you for your very kind words. Keep up the good work!


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About Brenda MacIntyre

About Brenda MacIntyre

Known by her indigenous name Medicine Song Woman, Brenda MacIntyre has shared her evocative melodic voice and fusion of reggae, rap and indigenous hand drum healing music with appreciative audiences of 30 to 3,000 across North America. The Toronto-based Juno Award-winning singer has been featured nationally on MuchMusic, CTV, CP24, APTN and most recently, Global and the front page of the Toronto Star.

Powered by her grief from losing her son to murder in 2016, Brenda MacIntyre pours her soulful voice over a confluence of indigenous hand drum healing, soft rap and conscious roots reggae in her album “Picking Up the Pieces,” released in September 2019.

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