Grief, a short word to describe an abyss of emotions.
A deep excruciating pain, deep in the pit of your stomach.
A void deep inside that nothing can seem to fill up.
Going to sleep hoping that when you wake up, this devastating event would have just been a really bad dream.
Yes, losing someone dear to us can conjure all these emotions and much, much more. It is something we will all face in our life. Some more than others, some more intense than others - but no one is immune to this sometimes overwhelming emotional experience we call grief.
Some may have only experienced grief losing a pet - others with a parent, child or close friend/loved one. The emotion comes regardless of whom we lost and can manifest in different ways, but we all face this darkness. It is the opposite side to love and feels so BIG because we love so deeply. Life right?
There is no magical trick to reliving grief, it must be fully felt and gone through to heal. Numbing with mind altering substances (prescription meds, alcohol, non-scrip drugs etc) or avoidance behaviors does not alleviate grief, it postpones and morphs it into something destructive. Anger, addiction and despair can take over our spirit when we try to run from the pain. Trust me. Allowing the feelings to fully express in order to pass through is the only healthy way to survive, thrive and build character able to find the purpose and joy in life after a deep loss.
But there are things you can do to lovingly support your mind, body and spirit to pass through the experience of grief to come out the other side in a healthy way.
Aromatherapy is one of the effective methods you can use to great effect in supporting your body and mind moving through grief and its related emotions like sadness, helplessness, anger, regret, remorse, and frustration.
AROMATHERAPY SUPPORT FOR GRIEF
When there is grief, not only are we *feeling* the pain, but our body goes through an intense process. When we feel stalled in the process of grief, we don’t move forward and our inertia often manifests in muscle and joint aches, sleeplessness, anxiety, headaches, digestive issues, reduced immune function, the adenoids and the adrenal glands shut down; and more. Essential oils have properties to support our body & spirit go through these processes in a healthy way.
Use the essential oils & blends we use in everyday life for these physical manifestations:
Digestive issues - DiGize, lemon, ginger, fennel, peppermint, TummyGize (supplement: Allerzyme, Comfortone, Essentialzyme, Digest+Cleanse)
Headache - tension: lavender, marjoram, roman chamomile, MGrain; migraine: MGrain, peppermint, lavender, frankincense (supplement: Cortistop, Master Formula, Ninxia Red & Nitro)
Sleeplessness - lavender, Peace&Calming, cedarwood, marjoram, vetiver, patchouli, roman chamomile, valerian (supplement: Sleepessence)
ProTip: A restful night’s sleep is the foundation on which all emotional healing is based, do not let this go unsupported.
Nightmares/Interrupted sleep - Dreamcatcher, Surrender, lavender, orange, bergamot, Sleepyize, vetiver, valerian, sandalwood (sacred or RH)
Immune Boosting - Thieves, Purification, oregano, thyme, rosemary, cinnamon bark, frankincense, lemon (supplement: InnerDefense, SuperC, ImmuPower)
STAGES OF GRIEF & CORRESPONDING ESSENTIAL OILS
These stages don’t necessarily occur in the order listed nor in a clear cut fashion. Shock & denial can be interwoven with bargaining with God. Depression can be immersed with anger and guilt. You may skip a stage, get stuck in some, or zoom through after the initial pain and get to the healing. These are simply to help you understand and therefore not judge, the many things you will most likely feel and experience.
No matter what, you must let yourself go through each without suppression and hopefully without judgment (easy advice for me to give, been hard to follow). The intensity of your emotions in each stage is the expression of your intense love. You cannot grieve if you did not first love deeply. Give yourself grace.
Note: You will notice overlap and repetition in oil suggestions. Given grief is never clear cut in its stages, your aromatherapy support will as well. As with all therapeutic essential oil usage, remember to use what works for you.
Play around with singes and blends, topical and aromatic usage until you get the right fit. Use suggested singles to make a blended roller or combine in the diffuser. Start with a few drops of 3-7 oils suggested and see how you feel.
Your needs may change daily - and that’s okay.
SHOCK & DENIAL
Denial is the first of the five stages of grief. It helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle.
EO’s - SARA, Journey On, RuTaVala, Trauma Life, Joy, White Angelica, orange, melissa, marjoram, frankincense, vetiver, patchouli, sandalwood (sacred or RH), bergamot, roman chamomile, jasmine, lavender
GUILT & ANGER
Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. There are many other emotions under the anger and you will get to them in time, but anger is the emotion we are most used to managing. The truth is that anger has no limits. It can extend not only to your friends, the doctors, your family, yourself and your loved one who died, but also to God. You may ask, “Where is God in this? Underneath anger is pain, your pain. Anger at yourself can manifest as guilt. Guilt you weren’t enough, didn’t say I love you enough, didn’t protect the loved one, or in the case of miscarriage - guilt your body failed. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned, but we live in a society that fears anger. Anger is strength and it can be an anchor, giving temporary structure to the nothingness of loss.
EO’s - Forgiveness, Acceptance, InnerChild, Joy, Journey On, White Angelica, Peace&Calming, Tranquil, Valor, vetiver, orange, roman chamomile, rose, neroli, cardamon, ylang ylang, myrrh, palo santo, pettigrain
DIALOGUE & BARGAINING
Before a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared. “Please God, ” you bargain, “I will never be angry at my wife again if you’ll just let her live.” After a loss, bargaining may take the form of a temporary truce. “What if I devote the rest of my life to helping others. Then can I wake up and realize this has all been a bad dream?” We become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements. We want life returned to what is was; we want our loved one restored. We want to go back in time: find the tumor sooner, recognize the illness more quickly, stop the accident from happening…if only, if only, if only. Guilt is often bargaining’s companion. The “if onlys” cause us to find fault in ourselves and what we “think” we could have done differently. We may even bargain with the pain. We will do anything not to feel the pain of this loss. We remain in the past, trying to negotiate our way out of the hurt. People often think of the stages as lasting weeks or months. They forget that the stages are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one and then another. We do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. We may feel one, then another and back again to the first one.
EO’s - Valor, Acceptance, Journey On, Faith, Joy, Grounding, Release, Believe, Peace&Calming, orange, bergamot, sacred frankincense, frankincense, coriander, Northern Lights Black Spruce, roman chamomile
After bargaining, our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level, deeper than we ever imagined. This depressive stage feels as though it will last forever. It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness. It is the appropriate response to a great loss. We withdraw from life, left in a fog of intense sadness, wondering, perhaps, if there is any point in going on alone? Why go on at all? Depression after a loss is too often seen as unnatural: a state to be fixed, something to snap out of. The first question to ask yourself is whether or not the situation you’re in is actually depressing. The loss of a loved one is a very depressing situation, and depression is a normal and appropriate response. To not experience depression after a loved one dies would be unusual. When a loss fully settles in your soul, the realization that your loved one didn’t get better this time and is not coming back is understandably depressing. If grief is a process of healing, then depression is one of the many necessary steps along the way.
EO’s - Valor, Joy, Hope, Freedom, Journey On, Present Time, Joy, Release, Trauma Life, InnerChild, Surrender, rose, copaiba, sacred frankincense, Idaho Blue Spruce, vetiver, lavender, peppermint, palo Santo, valerian, clary sage
Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don’t ever feel OK or all right about the loss of a loved one. This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality. We will never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live. We must try to live now in a world where our loved one is missing. In resisting this new norm, at first many people want to maintain life as it was before a loved one died. In time, through bits and pieces of acceptance, however, we see that we cannot maintain the past intact. It has been forever changed and we must readjust. We must learn to reorganize roles, re-assign them to others or take them on ourselves. Finding acceptance may be just having more good days than bad ones. As we begin to live again and enjoy our life, we often feel that in doing so, we are betraying our loved one. We can never replace what has been lost, but we can make new connections, new meaningful relationships, new inter-dependencies. Instead of denying our feelings, we listen to our needs; we move, we change, we grow, we evolve.
EO’s - Acceptance, Clarity, Higher Unity, Joy, Journey On, Trauma Life, Present Time, lavender, spikenard, sacred frankincense, frankincense
Grief is a reflection of the connection and love you felt for your loved one that still resides in your heart. You came here you loved. Every tear is an evidence of that love. And if you have a thousand tears to cry, you can’t stop at five hundred. Remembering and honoring our loved one to find hope and purpose in our life and theirs. This is an extension of acceptance, but a stage that many do not reach. Despair is a useless and silly emotion after grief because we cannot see the ‘bigger picture.’ If you hold that God can bring beauty and meaning to everything you’ve suffered and every tear you’ve shed - keep your heart open to finding the meaning in the loss so you can truly honor your loved one by living a life of joy, meaning and purpose.
EO’s - Higher Unity, Joy, Journey On, Clarity, Live with Passion, Transformation, Envision, Joy, cardamon, orange, tangerine, grapefruit, lemon, peppermint, lavender, ylang ylang
WHAT PURE THERAPEUTIC ESSENTIAL OILS CAN DO
Release emotional trauma; alleviate physical symptoms of stress; re-establish a positive energy flow throughout the body; quiet the mind, bring balance to the mind, spirit, and emotions, allowing one to release past trauma and become grounded in the present time; empower the physical and spiritual bodies; overcome fear and opposition so we can stand tall during adversity; brings a feeling of calmness, peace, and relaxation; release feelings of anger and promotes forgiveness, elevating the mind and bringing out the gentle characteristics within oneself for a positive outlook on life; freedom to strive for your highest potential; alleviate feelings of anxiety, stress, fear, and emotional trauma; energizing and stimulating to the conscious mind, allowing for the support necessary to make changes, especially mental and emotional changes; calm and soothe nervous tension and to help alleviate fears and emotional trauma.
Joy, for example, when inhaled, it brings back memories of being loved, being held, sharing loving times, feeling and opening those blocks in our lives where perhaps we have shut down to love or receiving love or love of self. When there is grief, the adenoids and the adrenal glands shut down; Joy opens these glands. This blend contains: Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Geranium, Lemon, Coriander, Tangerine, Jasmine, Roman Chamomile, Palmarosa & Rose.
CONSISTENCY & SUPPORT
These are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling in the process of grief, and aromatherapy suggestions to help support your body and mind move through and beyond one of life’s biggest challenges. Hourly usage so your body is constantly filled with this natural plant medicine is key, consistency.
You may not be in a space for self-care, so asked a loved one to make sure the diffuser is always filled and to make you a roller, to add a drop of orange to your water to support your body keeping cortisol to a minimum, etc. Need support here? Let me now and I would be happy to make you something custom.
Don’t let your nutrition go by the wayside - processed junk food & excessive sugar will drag your natural defenses down, making everything worse. Again, ask for help from family and friends to bring you nutritious comforting meals (when you feel like eating). Have a glass of Ningxia Red or a PureProtein shake if a meal seems intolerable.
Grief is not linear in its experience. One day you feel filled with acceptance and moving towards meaning - to find yourself stricken with depression the next day. you have to honor the loss of your loved one.
You may feel judged by others, maybe they say your grief is too long, too little, or not right. Forget what anyone else says or thinks. You’re not responsible for what they think or feel. It’s up to you to experience your own grief. No one will grieve like you and you don’t want to grieve like anyone else. There’s no right or wrong way to outwardly mourn. Just allow yourself the time and space to feel the grief you feel on the inside.
Avoid alcohol and other suppressive substances throughout this process. The do not serve your body, mind or honor your loved one. The temporary escape will need to be reckoned with later anyway - so face it head on. That is the only way to heal.
Speaking to a trusted friend or relative, who will not judge or try to fix you, can help. If your suffering turns towards self-harm and you feel you have nowhere to turn, seek support from a trained therapist.
You are not alone.
Please feel free to comment or PM with any questions or suggestions of your own. As always, I am here to be of service to you and your family in any way I can. This is a topic I know well - so if I can support you it would be my honor.
Much love xx