When my mother passed away early this year, after a long and painful decline in health, I was initially relieved because I knew that her years of suffering were over. The vigilance and need for support that accompanied my mother’s many years of suffering was suddenly gone. That sense of vigilance and support prevented me from fully grieving my father when he passed away several years earlier. The sense of relief that my mother was no longer suffering carried me through until Mother’s Day when I entered another phase of grief; and no I am not talking about the five stages you have all probably been told are ‘normal’. I felt lost, flat (lethargy and apathy), empty, sad and like an orphan. Hard to believe that at 66 one could feel like an orphan. Every day that passes presents me with a mixed bag of emotions, some days more challenging than others.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ cycle of grief. You will be told that grieving is a process. It is a very personal process and no two people will go through the process in the same way. The time frame for grieving is different for everyone and the emotions may change daily. Despite my daily goal to be positive and upbeat; world events, bad news and stressors impacted my grief. Past grief can add to present grief (compounded grief) to magnify the impact and body’s responses. Old wounds can be triggered by the loss. The body and mind have a reduced ability to cope with stressors (physical, mental, emotional or spiritual) when we are grieving. Previous vulnerabilities and health challenges can revisit. Other factors can add to feelings of grief. From a grief counselling perspective – whatever you are feeling is normal. Feelings matter, as does expressing feelings appropriately, and having people tell you ‘you need to get over that’, does not help.
When my husband passed away in 2010 after suffering through a horrific melanoma skin cancer battle, my grief was different. Despite my initial sense of relief that his suffering was over, the bag of varied emotions that presented over the years was vast and at times still is.
Counselling provides strategies to help deal with grief, and doctors provide prescriptions for medications to numb or dull the impact, and others to help you sleep. After my ongoing recovery from toxicant induced loss of tolerance (TILT) for chemicals, I chose not to take medications after my husband’s death. Grief can make you more vulnerable to past stressors. The lungs hold onto grief and my respiratory system seemed more vulnerable and reactive during times of grief, including during the last two Christmas season when I experienced a sore throat and cough. I rode the wave of emotions that followed; sometimes feeling like I was making progress and sometimes feeling like I was going down for the count. Luckily I had my amazing children (their spouses) and grandchildren to support me.
This time around the ‘grief cycle’ I have more options for dealing with the day to day emotions that surface. I have immense gratitude to my daughter Amanda who introduced me to essential oils several years ago. I also have immense gratitude to God for the bounty of plant essences that provide us with comfort and healing. Essential oils are my daily ‘go to’ to ride the grief wave of emotions and help my body and mind process what I am feeling. The emotions wheel recommendations and the specific emotional aromatherapy essential oils provide a full range of relief options. I love to diffuse oils in the morning. I use a variety of essential oils to help me ride the wave of emotions that present daily while I am grieving or stressed.
The Emotions & Essential Oils Wheel above comes with a companion reference guide which is really helpful in guiding your daily emotional aromatherapy selection.
If you have not already concluded that ‘grief will change you’, it will; maybe short term, maybe long term. Those who love you will witness changes in your responses and behavior – this too is a normal component of grieving.
Consider a ‘creative weekend’ retreat to help you process your grief. Customize your retreat to fit your needs and desires.
MY HEALTH RECOVERY: The butterfly effect is the belief that small changes over time can create huge life changes – http://mybodycanhealitself.ca/wordpress/?p=3068
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to attend a ‘creative weekend’ retreat or get started using emotional aromatherapy to help you through your grieving journey. Order your aromatherapy essential oils contact me.
Elisabeth Hines, C.N.C., C.B.P. Holistic Wellness Practitioner, www.mybodycanhealitself.ca