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Essential Oils for Grief Management

Feeling numb, empty, anxious, depressed, or intensely sad after a loss is normal and natural. Let's look at using essential oils for grief management as one way to help get through this difficult time.

Grieving Woman

Stages of Grief

It might help you to understand you are likely to go through stages in dealing with grief. Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (On Grief and Grieving) defined five stages:

  • Shock and denial
  • Anger and guilt
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Adjustment and acceptance

These stages don't necessarily occur in order, and you may not experience all of them. Take the time you need to deal with your grief in your way and don't let anyone rush you to "just get over it."

Essential Oils for Grief

The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy suggests the following individual essential oils for bereavement and grief:

  • Benzoin
  • Cistus
  • Cypress
  • Frankincense
  • Lavender
  • Mandarin
  • Melissa
  • Neroli
  • Patchouli
  • Roman chamomile
  • Rose otto or rose maroc
  • Spikenard
  • Vetiver

Suggested comforting blends:

  • 4 drops frankincense + 9 drops lemon
  • 3 drops lavender + 6 drops geranium
  • 2 drops petitgrain + 6 drops neroli
  • 7 drops patchouli + 8 drops geranium + 15 drops mandarin

Use any of the oils or blends in a diffuser or dilute in carrier appropriately for a massage.

Essential Oil Grief Blends

Here's a blend from Massage & Aromatherapy: Simple Techniques to Use at Home:

  • 3 drops patchouli essential oil
  • 3 drops ginger essential oil
  • 3 drops rose essential oil
  • 1 drop frankincense essential oil
  • 3 tablespoons carrier oil

Mix well. Massage into your shoulders, chest, and neck.

An essential oils for grief blend for guilt and anger suggested by the New York Institute of Aromatic Studies (which also offers blends for the other stages of grief) is:

  • 3 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops roman chamomile essential oil
  • 2 drops jasmine absolute

Use in a bath, diffuser, or personal aromatherapy inhaler.

Grief and Shock Blend

The Healing Intelligence of Essential Oils recommends the following massage blend for insomnia, shock, and grief:

  • 2 drops benzoin absolute
  • 2 drops jasmine absolute
  • 2 drops lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops neroli absolute
  • 2 drops petitgrain essential oil
  • 2 drops rose essential oil
  • 2 drops rosewood essential oil
  • 2 drops vetiver essential oil
  • 2 drops ylang ylang essential oil
  • 2 tablespoons jojoba oil

Grief Blend

Here's a formula from The Best Natural Cures Using Essential Oils:

  • To a 5-ml dropper bottle, add:
  • 20 drops red mandarin essential oil
  • 20 drops ylang ylang essential oil
  • 20 drops frankincense essential oil
  • 10 drops geranium essential oil
  • 10 drops rose geranium essential oil
  • 10 drops bergamot essential oil
  • 5 drops helichrysum essential oil
  • 5 drops rose essential oil

Cap bottle. Shake well. Let blend synergize for at least eight hours.

To use: Diffuse or use a few drops in an inhaler. You could also make a room spray (20 to 30 drops in 1/2 cup distilled water). Or make a body oil with 15 to 30 drops in 2 tablespoons carrier oil. Apply to sinus points around your nose and forehead and on the back of the neck.

If you want to blend just enough for a body oil using 2 tablespoons carrier oil:

  • 4 drops red mandarin
  • 4 drops ylang ylang
  • 4 drops frankincense
  • 2 drops geranium
  • 2 drops rose geranium
  • 2 drops bergamot
  • 1 drop helichrysum
  • 1 drop rose

Grief Management Tips

Grief Management Candle

In addition to using essential oils for grief, here are some more grief management tips:

  • Talk about it. Share your grief and other feelings with friends, family members, minister, rabbi, or spiritual counselor—someone you trust and feel supports you and can listen with compassion. If talking with people in your everyday life is difficult, consider seeing a professional counselor.
  • Distract yourself with pleasant activities but don't let them become a way to repress your feelings. Let your feelings flow naturally through you. You may let go naturally, or you can get help if you need it.
  • Get regular massage. Massage increases circulation, which helps the body flush out stress hormones, and increases the secretion of natural mood elevators called endorphins. Massage lets you enjoy much-needed peace and nurturing. Sometimes, massage may provoke tears of sadness, an emotional response that is natural and normal.
  • Exercise. It has many of the same benefits as massage. Do be gentle and don't push yourself to do too much.
  • If you feel overwhelmed with sadness and sensitive to your environment, find a place that feels safe to you where you can express your feelings. This could be at home, with a formal or informal support group, or in a favorite spot in nature.

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Photo Credits: Woman by rosmary/Flickr/CC and Candle from MorgueFile