When you lose a loved one or a close friend in so sudden and so shocking a manner, it brings forth feelings of grief, anger, resentment, and above all the question of “why?”.
Today, I learned of a friend passing and I can’t tell you how hard of a blow I felt at the news, like a cannon ball hitting me in the chest knocking all the air from my lungs. I am in complete shock.
It was so sudden. I’m told she died from a heart attack.
To say that I have felt grief is a bit of an understatement. Being the empath that I am and just feeling the keen edge of emotions more than others in general, it hasn’t been easy.
I lost my own mother in February 2013, and although I have learnt to deal with the fact she is no longer here. Today, as brought all those feelings of grief, flooding back as though it was only yesterday.
Joanna, was not only a friend but she had been my counsellor in the days, weeks and months following my mother’s death. She listened to me hours at a time.
She was also the mother of my sons best friend Kate. That’s how our paths had crossed. I know for a fact my son Josh, will be feeling very much the same today. I wish he lived nearer in times like these.
HOW TO USE ESSENTIAL OILS FOR GRIEF
One of the methods I have used to great effect has been aromatherapy, and more specifically the use of essential oils for grief and its related emotions like sadness, helplessness, anger, regret, remorse, and frustration.
Having essential oils to diffuse in my home and to apply topically has been a true help in getting me through the worst of it and what makes them even more useful is their use can change with how I’m feeling. Certain oils will resonate more than others depending on circumstance, time of day, and what emotion I’m experiencing at that time.
You can use essential oils to enhance or diffuse your emotions which I think is a great way for each person to express their grief in their own way. I have used them for both; to enhance my grief so that I may purge my feelings and to diffuse when I needed the strength to move forward.
Below are a few of the oils I have used to help me deal with the pain of loss. I’ve also provided a bit of information on each where grief and some of its related emotions are concerned. I recommend leaning towards an essential oil where its smell resonates with you. You may be surprised to find that an oil that is known for its ability to lessen grief logically may not be the one you actually need.
Following your nose is key when choosing the oil you need.
THE BEST ESSENTIAL OILS FOR GRIEF
The loss of a loved one can bring about a roller-coaster of turbulent emotions like sadness, despair, helplessness, rejection, anger, fear, insecurity, isolation, hopelessness, guilt, abandonment, and many others. In order to support the grieving process as best we can it is essential that we care for ourselves mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
Using essential oils is a great way to support all of these pathways.
Bergamot and other citrus oils
Fruity citrusy oils like bergamot, grapefruit, lemon, lime, mandarin, and tangerine are known for their uplifting, joyful, and cheering action. In essence, they are reminiscent of their whole fruit forms in the sense that they embody the concept of fruition and life realised. They remind us that we can grow and move forward.
Bergamot is cheerful, bright, and comforting aroma has encouraged me to process and let go of emotions that no longer serve us or cannot be obtained. It is antidepressant and instills light joyful emotions. It is a good oil to use for positive remembrance.
Grapefruit essential oil was another citrus can help you pull through some of the anger and resentment. Grapefruit is known to help dispel frustration, blame, and anger when you feel overwhelmed by loss.
Lemon essential oil is another key citrus oil that will help you focus on what’s important in life as it’s easy to sink into a fathomless pit of despair during times of grief.
Lemon essential oil helps restore balance and dispel the confusion associated with loss. Also, I found that you simply cannot feel angry whilst smelling lemon essential oil.
Like all other woodsy essential oils, cedarwood gives us the strength of tall standing trees and how they continue to grow over long years through all types conditions. Just like life, they have weathered turbulent storms, fire, flood, and other such disasters only to bloom once more and stand strong. They remind us that “this too will pass with time”.
Cedarwood essential oil enhances and facilitates this ability to stand tall and weather the storms of life. It helps us endure dark, uncertain, and emotional events in our lives by grounding us and instilling within us the strength to move forward thereby preventing us from dwelling in despair.
Cinnamon bark essential oil is reminiscent of its source as well in the sense that bark protects the tree. Using this oil will help shelter and protect you from uncertainty as you face the outside world once more aiding you while you navigate everyday life and process your emotions within. Its warming scent is both penetrating and comforting. This oil is most useful when you must return to the real world after experiencing loss.
Leaves in aromatherapy often represent nourishing energy, strength, fulfilled emotions, and protection against extreme emotions during times of grief as they “let the light back in”.
Cinnamon leaf essential oil has a warming and penetrating aroma that uplifts and reinvigorates our zeal for life and our ability to remain present in the moment. It helps encourage us to venture back out into our daily routine.
Cypress essential oil is a steadfast companion during turmoil or turbulent events or while pushing through major life transitions that require extra strength and fortitude. It is extremely cleansing both physically and spiritually yet gives us the strength to stand tall and weather the worst storms in our lives. If you need extra strength to pull through the unknown, cypress is your oil.
The resin and sap of trees is reminiscent of life’s blood in the sense that it protects, seals, and heals a wound. And, just like a physical wound, resin bases essential oils are known for their ability to heals the wounds within us as well.
Frankincense has long been used during times of worship and spirituality to help us feel closer to our faith. Its scent allows us to better navigate circulating and overwhelming thoughts that try and prevent us from restoring growth and stability. Frankincense essential oil helps us process unsettling thoughts and feelings.
One of the worst emotions that you or others around you may experience during times of loss is blame. Blaming others and claiming that they are at fault for the loss of a loved one can lead to hostile and angry situations and it can be hard to see those close to you respond in such troubling ways.
Geranium essential oil helps encourage calm communication, dispels anger, and helps those gripped by grief to take appropriate action while opening the heart to feelings of acceptance.
When your grief has moved past the stage of shock and you have been able to process your loss, you may find yourself feeling uninspired, burned out, energetically drained, or stuck. For times like these, ginger essential oil can help encourage you to get back into the swing of life so that you may actively pursue life once more.
Jasmine absolute is known for its uplifting and stimulating nature in times of nervous exhaustion. It is especially beneficial for those experiencing anxiety, apathy, depression, indifference, and listlessness associated with loss. It helps calm the mind when you must stay alert and present in your everyday life.
If you experience great burden in the form of guilt, shame, unresolved pain, or feeling of abandonment, lavender essential oil is best for supporting you through the healing process. It encourages gentle recovery, balance, and a sense of calm as you move forward after loss. It is very anti-depressant.
During times where one has lost someone because of suicide, myrrh essential oil helps us restore inner peace where feelings of rejection, abandonment, or isolation take root. It is most useful when bad news has been received and you feel as though your physical body has been sundered from your emotions, almost like they have been separated.
Myrrh allows one to experience inner peace when we may be otherwise preoccupied with overflowing emotions.
Floral essential oils remind us of life’s fleeting beauty. Their delicate, sweet, and intoxicating scents instill joy, comfort, and love in our hearts during troubling times.
Neroli essential oil helps restore balance and order in our lives and helps remind us that life with once again sort itself out and return to some sense of normalcy. It helps us quell overt feelings of anger when the loss of a loved one makes us grapple for control.
Roman chamomile is one of the best essential oils for grief in that it soothes feelings of abandonment and isolation after the loss of a loved one. It brings the heart back to center and helps quell destructive over-thinking.
Rose absolute is by far one of the greatest essential oils for grief that I know of. Despite its delicate nature in both source and scent, we must remember that the noble and unassuming rose has thorns. Brambles of roses can offer the surest of protection from unwanted forces and the essential oil is no different in that regard.
Rose heals overwhelming despair, soothes grief and shock, helps you release traumatic emotions, and will deeply heal the heart and soul after the loss of a loved one.
Only use rose absolute when you have processed and reconciled other emotions associated with grief as rose opens you to experience and embrace emotions.
Rosemary essential oil helps cut through the mental fog that can settle in when going through periods of grief and personal loss. If you find yourself unable to clear your mind or restore mental fortitude, rosemary can help enhance mental clarity, reduce stress, and uplift a saddened heart.
One of the best essential oils for quieting an overactive mind and clearing away destructive thoughts is sandalwood essential oil. If your grief centers around turbulent leftover emotions that are hard to get rid of, sandalwood helps clear them away and instead fills you with a sense of peace.
Spikenard essential oil is known for its calming and grounding properties that will help release deep-seated grief and sadness that seems to only get worse with time. Spikenard helps to gently pluck out the hooks of grief allowing you to let go of unresolved pain and emotions.
When your destructive thoughts are on repeat, it’s time to bring out the sweet marjoram essential oil.
Sweet marjoram is known for its ability to supplant negative thoughts and let go of racing obsessive thoughts that consume your every waking moment. It helps encourage mental and physical fortitude so that you can examine emotions a calmly let them go.
Vetiver essential oil helps ground us when we feel like we are floating away with grief. It helps anchor us in the present moment so that we may maintain a healthy connection with our life and those who remain in it. Vetiver is restorative and stabilising.
Ylang ylang essential oil is known for its exotic heady aroma which I often find too cloying. However, during times of grief I have found it to be especially healing in that it encourages a sense of tranquility and inner peace by tempering anger and confusion.
HOW TO USE ESSENTIAL OILS FOR RELIEVING GRIEF
There are a variety of ways in which you can use essential oils to best suit your needs during times of grief and internal healing.
I have listed a few methods that I have found helpful for my personal journey through grief and I hope you find solace, comfort, encouragement, and the power to move forward when using them.
Just remember, what works for me may not be what you need. Follow your nose and use the essential oils that resonate with YOU.
This may sound fancy, but anointing is actually very easy and straight forward to do.
All you need to so is apply a single drop of essential oil to a diffuser necklace, a tissue, or any other item you can keep nearby so that you can inhale the healing power of the essential oils.
I like to apply a single drop of oil to a sachet of dried flowers I have and keep them near my pillow at night while I sleep to help encourage rest and a quiet mind.
The oils I liked to use for this are lavender, cedarwood, and valerian. I mixed equal parts of each oil and made a blend in its own empty essential oil bottle. Then I used a single drop of that blend as needed for times when sleeping was difficult due to overthinking and feeling “wired but tired”.
Valerian has been especially helpful because it is calming, relaxing, grounding, and emotionally balancing. It also helps minimize helplessness, shock, anxiety and stress that are associated with traumatic events.
Keep in mind that some essential oils can stain fabric, wood, and other materials so make sure not to anoint sentimental items.
Bath Salts or Bombs
One of the best ways for me to let out pent up emotions is by taking a nice hot bath and listening to music that helps me release grief, sadness, and other feelings that need to come out.
Using essential oils in a cup of Epsom salts or in a homemade bath bomb is an excellent way to scent the water and the bathroom while you release tension and restore emotional balance.
The Epsom salts themselves are cleansing for the body and will help pull away toxins and other impurities. If you go the extra mile and mix in equal parts Himalayan sea salt, you can enjoy its nourishing and skin smoothing benefits as well.
It can be hard to take care of ourselves when lost in endless grief, but at least running a bath and infusing yourself with restorative essential oils will help not only cleanse your body, but also your soul.
The simplest way to make bath salts is to measure out a cup of Epsom salts and mix in 20 drops of essential oil. Mix them well and slowly pour them into running bath water to mix.
If you have the energy to get a little fancy, try mixing ½ a cup of Epsom salts, ½ a cup of himalayan pink salt, 3 TB of carrier oil, and 20 drops of essential oil. Mix together and add to running bath water. This will yield a wonderfully moisturising bath soak that will help keep your skin healthy when you don’t have the mind to stay on top of things.
Some essential oils to consider include:
• Sweet orange
I have loved lavender for its relaxant qualities and its ability to help me overcome insomnia, anxiety, depression, and overwhelming chaotic energy.
Diffusing essential oils in the home can be one of the best ways to infuse your bedroom with the scent of healing essential oils. Within minutes, the essential oils are in the bloodstream doing their work to help support us both internally and externally.
I like to diffuse essential oils for all manner of emotions, but have found during times of grief the power they can have over my ability to stay in the moment and remain focused. I know that it can be all too easy to allow your thoughts to drift back and dwell on the “should have, would have, could, have, didn’t” moments, but staying focused when you need to be is key for acceptance and moving forward.
To diffuse essential oils, simply add 10 drops of oil to your favorite diffuser and diffuse for 20-30 minutes 2-3 times a day.
Some of my favorite oils to diffuse during dark emotional times include:
• Lemon and other citrus oils
I have loved geranium in particular for helping me clear my mind and release negative memories.
Using a personal inhaler is a discreet way to deal with grief. If you’re the type of person who find solace in work and continuing on with everyday life, then using a personal inhaler is an excellent option to help support your emotions without attracting unwanted attention.
The best part about these handy little inhalers is that they are super portable and can easily fit in your pocket. Whenever the need arises, simply take it out, unscrew the cap, and breath in the essential oils.
I have found that pairing a bright citrus essential oils with woodsy/resinous essential oils imparts a very grounding yet uplifting sense of balance that helps encourage positivity, focus, and alertness.
Some oils to consider include:
• Sweet orange
Frankincense has been especially helpful because it elevates the mind and empowers one to overcome stress and despair.
Room or Body Spray
Creating a simple room/body spray is another great way to use essential oils for grief as you can just spritz yourself or the room around you in order to benefit from the oils.
This can be especially helpful when you are in a space that is not your own and are not able to diffuse your essential oils. I also love using a spray on my pillow and bed sheets before crawling into bed as it’s excellent for clearing bad energy.
To make a simple room spray just add 6 drops of essential oil for every ounce of water. Shake vigorously before each use to mix the oils and water together and spritz generously.
I like to use a 1oz spray bottle for this.
Some of my favorite essential oils have been:
• Roman chamomile (South African chamomile is amazing if you can find it)
I find that adding even just a single drop of rose absolute to a blend can create a sense of balance, harmony, and well-being while also attracting love and joy.
I hope these oils offer some kind of relief from the grief you are feeling right now.
Death is unfortunately, part of life and whatever the cause or circumstance, bereavement is a most profound and keenly felt loss that wrenches away a part of us we may not know existed.
It hurts, terribly.
We may feel adrift, alone, or abandoned in the vast sea of life and each of us with experience loss in our own ways – sometimes unpredictably.
Whether it be throwing yourself into work to blind out the pain, withdrawing into yourself and away from others, or shutting away your emotions to never be seen or felt again, there is hope in the use of essential oils as they can provide the right atmosphere for your unique grieving needs.
It doesn’t matter if no one else like the oils or the blends you need to console your soul.
Perhaps the worst form of grief, which I have felt so much today is knowing you never had the chance to say “I love you” or “Good-bye”.
Although before my mother passed away, I did get the chance to tell her how much I loved her. Even though I’d prepared myself for 2 years, (as we knew she would die, but we didn’t know when). It still doesn’t make that feeling of grief any different to what I’m feeling today with the sudden passing of my friend.
I hope that Joanna travels safely to the next world, and that she is aware of how much we are going to miss her, until we met again.
So I bid you farewell my friend. Thank you for everything you did for me, and everything you did for Josh. I will be forever in your debt. Love and kisses now and forever.