Essential oils and grief, part II
Updated: Apr 22, 2020
Part II. Acceptance and Blends for Grief
In part one, several essential oils were discussed for gentling and guiding the feelings associated with bereavement, grief and loss. Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ model for the stages of grief was applied to describe four of the five stages, while selections of essential oils were matched with emotions and healing. In this post, I will address oils that may assist with the stage of acceptance and the reentry into a new life. Recipes and ideas for using essential oils will be offered alongside of a dilution chart and instruction for the safe use of essential oils.
The stage of acceptance is a deep process. It requires strength, endurance and support to continue to move forward and re-enter a life which may or may not make sense. Finding acceptance by integrating one’s self into living an unknown life can be frightening as well as invigorating. People often find themselves trying things they have never done before, and/or there is a return to social activity. The experience can create a sense of guilt for moving forward without the person (or life) they lost. It can also lead back to depression if a person doesn’t have the strength or endurance to move forward. The oils I chose are in support of the long haul, the difficult psychological and often spiritual work of integration into a new way of living. It includes essential oils of Cypress, Marjoram, Clary Sage, Rose, Palo Santo, Roman Chamomile and Helichrysum.
“There are no goodbyes for us. Wherever you are, you will always be in my heart.”
Many of these oil properties have already been discussed, please see part I for additional reference. Cypress, or Cupressus sempervirens can provide comfort allowing one to cope and accept. For the Greeks, wild marjoram, or Origanum majorana was a Funeral Herb, planted on graves to bring spiritual peace to the departed. Marjoram calms nervousness and can offer sedative qualities as well as reduce pain from headaches to muscles. Clary Sage, Salvia sclarea also calms nerves perhaps allowing one to come to terms with a loss. The two major components that contribute to its relation qualities are linalool and linalyl acetate. These are the same chemical properties that make the gentle sedative impact of lavender so popular. Rosa damascena is a companion that may restore trust and healing to the heart. While rose calms and supports the heart, the oils was selected to allow for a sense of well-being. Palo Santo, or Bursera graveolens is said to carry the spirit of the Palo Santo tree. The essential oil cannot be extracted from the heart wood of the tree for many years following its death. This can be wonderful oil for meditation and lending support as one begins to enter a life. Please be aware of where you purchase this oil from. Sustainable harvesting is not happening in Peru, where it is considered critically endangered. Try looking for sources from Ecuador where efforts are made to harvest trees ethically and sustainably. This is worth noting, don’t hesitate to contact the company you purchase your essential oils from, ask where the oil comes from, who the farmers are, what is the distillation date of the oil, does the farm practice fair trade or ethical harvesting methods. A reputable essential oil company should be transparent with you, there should not be anything to hide because any worthy retailer will be able to provide you (without hesitation) information about where their product is coming from.
As you work with different oils you may want to try them in a variety of blends. As mentioned in the first article, inhalation is the most direct route for fast impact. When I make inhaler I generally try not to use more than 6 essential oils. You can find aromatic inhaler containers on the internet. It isn’t necessary to use more than 12-16 drops of essential oils in an inhaler for an adult; I recommend less for children, fragile and/or immune compromised adults.
When making an essential oil blend to apply topically to the skin remember, citrus oils can be photosensitive, meaning don’t apply orange, bergamot or grapefruit to my arms if taking a hike. You can find citrus essential oils steamed rather than cold pressed. The method of steam distillation removes the Furocoumarin present in citruses as bergapentin, otherwise known as the component that makes your skin sensitive to sunlight and increases your chance of burning.
Dilute your blends in a carrier oil; olive oil or coconut, sweet almond etc. I have provided a dilution chart below. Although there are some essential oils that can be used directly on the skin, most should not be used in this way. This is because an essential oil is the most concentrated form of a plant’s chemical makeup. Most essential oils are made up of compounds that are inflammatory or irritating to skin if not diluted. Essential oils can create burns, redness and many are flammable.
Learn more about proper and safe use of essential oils, or explore the unique experience making your own individual grief blend by attending any of the workshops I facilitate. Find dates under the workshops tab on my website; pricing is also listed online; kristinaLdaniels.com.
Essential Oils Dilution (for topical use)
1% 1 EO drop per Tsp. Carrier oil
6 drops to 1 oz Carrier oil
Use for kids 6yrs and above; elderly; medically fragile; folks with sensitive skin type
2% 12 drops essential oil (s) to 1oz Carrier oil
This is a good dilution rate for a healthy adult or for daily use including skincare
3% 18-20 essential oil drops to 1 oz Carrier oil
Acute illness or injury (short term use) muscle injury, severe pain, respiratory/cold
A bath blend using Epsom salt and essential oils for aromatic support and relaxation can provide nurture and grounding morning or evening. Use thoughtfulness when you preparing your bath, think about soothing oils…not things that might burn your most exposed areas. Avoid oils like clove, thyme and cinnamon in the tub. I recommend clary sage, lavender (Lavendula angustifolia), marjoram, bergamot, grapefruit and cypress.
Please use the essential oils I’ve recommended as a place to begin, what I find is that there is no one essential oil for any one specific symptom. The oils are all different, harvested in different seasons, from different geographic regions and differing chemical makeups because of it. Trust what works for you and if you would like to know where I am pulling resources and information, please check out the reference list. Happy Blending.
Aromatherapy for grief and loss, Untamed Alchemist; https://theuntamedalchemist.com/2014/08/27/aromatherapy-for-grief-loss/
Stillpoint Aromatics Website; Stillpointaromatics.com
Cranial Nerve Impairments, In Clinical Neurology for Psychiatrists (Sixth Edition), 2007; https//www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/olfactory-nerve.
Mikiko Kadohisa; Effects of odor on emotion, with implications; US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3794443/
Queensland Brain Institute; The University of Queensland Australia; The limbic system; https://qbi.uq.edu.au/brain/brain-anatomy/limbic-system
Gabriel Mojay, Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit; 1997.
Valerie Ann Wormwood, Aromatherapy for the Soul; 1999.
Fatemeh Bina, PharmD, PhD Candidate1 and Roja Rahimi, PharmD, PhD; Sweet Marjoram; A Review of Ethnopharmacology, Phytochemistry, and Biological Activities; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5871212