Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.
~Dr. Earl A. Grollman
Change can really suck sometimes. As human beings, we can be highly resistant to change of any kind, and loss of a loved one definitely qualifies as a change in our lives that really sucks. Sucks, sucks, sucks- suckity, suck, suck. Sorry about that.
What I’m getting at is grief and losses are things that can defy understanding and effective communication. The pain can be so severe you feel as though you will never be able move on, and you begin to wonder if you will ever feel true joy again.
Last week our guest contributor, Dr. Carly Rose, spoke on the importance of self-care and meditation to help us get through life’s many challenges. This week I thought I would share some thoughts on grief along with a few herbs which can be helpful when you are experiencing a season of grief in your life. I often like to think of things like grief, depression, and anxiety as “seasons”. It has many phases that are necessary to move through but intended to be temporary. Although the loss of a loved one may be permanent in this life, the excruciating pain often associated with grief is not. Whether the grief you are experiencing is due to a loss of a loved one, loss of a pet, loss of a job, or tied to one of the many tragedies which have, unfortunately, become all too common in our world on a daily basis right now, herbs can be highly effective allies which act in support of bringing ourselves through even our darkest of days.
It is important to note some changes in the understanding of grief. In the 1960s Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced us to her theory about the five stages of grief in her groundbreaking book On Death and Dying. These familiar stages include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Research (and freaking life experience) now shows that people do not necessarily experience grief in stages, but in phases. The process is not linear, and grief can be experienced in very different ways among different people.
The takeaway here? There’s no right or wrong way to experience grief.
However, it is important to fully process your grief in a way that makes sense to you. Especially because if you don’t, you are much more susceptible to a condition called complicated grief, an intense and long lasting form of grief that completely takes over a person’s life.
Unwanted side effects of grief can range from general despondency to full blown panic attacks in the middle of Kroger (been there). You lose sleep, you lose nourishment (as the highly successful therapist Bea Arthur once said, “You can’t eat salad when you’re sad”), your immunity can become compromised, and you can experience muscle tension, grogginess, and emotional numbness.
The good news is, there are a number of herbs that can really help support you in all of the phases of grief. Calming the nerves, quieting the mind, and strengthening the body. The herbs do not numb you as some commonly prescribed anxiety medications often do, they help you move through the layers of your grief so that you may reach your personal full potential. Here are some of my favorites (click the name of each for link).
Rescue Remedy - One of the most popular Bach Flower Essence remedies, this flower essence helps restore a sense of calm and control so gently. It can also be used in any stressful situation, and is even safe for use on children. This is a good one to have on hand in case your child gets injured and you need some support in calming them down so that you may address the severity of the injury and get them treated appropriately.
Agrimony - Another Bach Flower Essence, is fantastic when you are feeling unable to move through and process your grief or having feelings of numbness.
Gorse - For feelings of despondency, or that there is no hope. Gorse is wonderful to support those with a history of mental illness or depression.
Passionflower Extract - Named for the Passion of Christ, passionflower is one of my absolute favorite tinctures/extracts to use for the anxiety associated with grief. It promotes the kind of calm and relaxation that really helps you get through your day in times of high anxiety.
Albizia Extract - Great for overall nervous system support as well as to help if someone is stuck in grief.
Also, I’m a pretty old school herbalist in terms of my essential oil use (always diluted, never internally, and in small amounts), but I do find that peppermint essential oil is fantastic to use to uplift, lavender eases heartache, and rose hydrosol (not the essential oil because it’s so damn expensive and wastes way too much plant material) provides a sense of protection and help in challenging situations.
Our survival instinct is strong. Many have suffered what seems to be devastating and debilitating losses, only to overcome them and go on to thrive. Trust your journey, trust a power higher than yourself, and trust and support your body through these difficult times.
Light and Love,
If you have overwhelming feelings of sadness or having thoughts about taking your own life, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to be connected with a skilled, trained counselor at a crisis center in your area anytime 24/7. The call is free and always confidential.
This post may include referral or affiliate links, which means that I may in some way financially benefit. If you think that’s gross or have a problem with that, we might not be friends. Just kidding of course, but here's my due diligence disclosure notice.
I'm not a doctor. I have, however, had many positive personal experiences with these remedies which is why I am sharing them with you today.