Love comes in many shades and when the unthinkable happens and we are suddenly faced with loss or separation, there are just as many shades of disbelief and heartache to navigate.
In my role as a clinical aromatherapist, I sometimes prescribe essential oils for grief and loss and though there is a range of physical symptoms that can arise, the focus is inevitably centered around the heart as the emotional energy center.
We all use the terms heartache and broken-hearted and we are all accepting of the symbolic relationship between heart and love. But, when it comes down to it, there is much less appreciation of how we can actually tend to matters of the heart with authentic medicinal support.
Essential oils can support a person to find the strength to cope
There is no magic wand of course. Finding a way through the impact of loss requires many levels of support as well as plain old time for natural process. The way that essential oils can help is by integrating with natural process to strengthen resilience, and protect and nurture holistic wellbeing.
The issue of resilience is raised by MD Steven M. Southwick (co-author of ‘Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life’s Greatest Challenges’). It is, he says, the fundamental factor in being able to find a way through grieving: “resilience meaning to bend but not break” (click here for podcast).
Why we need physical resilience for bereavement
When we lose a loved one, our whole state of being is disrupted. The guttural ‘flight or fight’ response including adrenalin and cortisol charge puts the body into a critical state of emergency. For the person dealing with painful emotional overload, this physical detail might seem insignificant, but the reality is that we can be kept in a condition of stress so extreme and extended that it has the potential to push our physical resilience to breaking point (see here).
A person suffering severe personal loss is likely to experience a number of physical symptoms which can include:
- Sleep difficulties
- Lowered immunity
- Poor appetite
- Migraines or headaches
- Shortness of breath
To minimise the damage to our health and general well-being it is important to recognize these things as primarily physical issues. Then we can treat them as such.
For example, the primary stress hormone identified in clinical studies is Cortisol, and various studies have shown how certain pure essential oils have the capacity to lower Cortisol levels in subjects with identifiable stress issues. Other studies using essential oils for anxiety issues in the hospital setting, report improved sleep patterns as an additional benefit. Though sleeping pills often get prescribed to help a person get through the first few days, they are not recommended medically as a longer term solution, a sleep specific essential oils blend might be a better option from the start (more on sleep here).
What can be done for the heartache and mental anguish?
Of course it is the emotional and psychological impact of loss that dominates our experience and this is where essential oil therapy really comes into its own.
The way it works is that pure essential oils have organic molecules that integrate with the body’s own molecular systems. The part of our brain that governs critical functions, such as heart rate, blood pressure, breathing, nervous system, and - crucially -memory and emotions, can be directly influenced towards healthful balance. This can happen because when our body is disrupted by illness or trauma all our interconnected systems then work to assimilate the event towards restoring functional balance. Clinical aromatherapy is all about connecting into that with natures own devices.
The psychological and emotional process following loss is essentially a healing process. In Psychology Today the current understanding is outlined thus:
grief is a) a highly individualized process , b) has no specific timetable, and c) many people find that their lives are better after going through grief, due to something referred to as "post-stress growth"
And four components of grief can be identified in varying degrees:
2. Traumatic Distress: this includes states of disbelief and shock, intrusions, and efforts to avoid intrusions and the spike of emotions they produce
3. Guilt, remorse, and regrets
4. Social withdrawal
With essential oils we can support a person to feel calmer and less agitated or anxious as their mind works to accept the loss, and provide them with a sense of comfort and gentle nurture that will help them to cope with the rounds of emotions and fears that follow.
The best Essential oils to use for grief, heartache and loss
Interestingly, it is another accepted symbol of love that is often involved in healing the heart: Rose. With one of the highest energetic frequencies known, Rose essential oil is a prized essence known to be deeply tonic and restorative and especially suited to supporting emotional process.
Sweet Rose is a blend of pure essential oils and can be inhaled direct or diffused into your space, whereas Rose in Jojoba and Heart Chakra blend can both be used for therapeutic massage, or simply applied to the pulse points.
Because each person grieves differently, I would invite anyone interested to connect through my econsult online for a personal prescription.
Remember always it is important to only use high quality essential oils from a reputable aromatherapy store or natural health products outlet. Certified organic is also recommended wherever possible. This is because only medicinal grade essential oils will interact with the body in a fully beneficial way at an optimum therapeutic level.
Medicinal-grade essential oils must be 100% pure. At Absolute Essential we use certified organic or wild grown (sustainable) plants to produce our oils and all extraction processes are strictly controlled to produce the best quality oil with a maximum purity and therapeutic value. See more at: Absolute Essential's Website