Grief Management and Self Care Tips
Feeling numb, empty, anxious, depressed, or intensely sad after a loss is normal and natural. This article offers grief management tips, including the use of essential oils, to help you get through this difficult time.
Stages Of Grief
It might help you to understand you are likely to go through stages in dealing with grief. Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross defined five stages:
- Shock and denial
- Anger and guilt
- Adjustment and acceptance
Another model is the seven stages of grief:
- Disbelief or shock
- Acceptance and hope
However, remember, 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." For more from Kübler-Ross, see On Grief and Grieving.
Grief Management Tips
Here are some 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.
- Use essential oils for support during grief. See suggestions in the next section.
- 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.
Aromatherapy For Grief Management
Aromatherapy may offer some comfort during the grieving process.
Individual Essential Oils For Grief
Aromatherapist Linda Lee Smith, former Director of the Institute of Spiritual Healing & Aromatherapy, suggests the following essential oils for grief:
- Bergamot has a citrus fragrance that is calming and uplifting. Use it if you're feeling agitated, depressed, or sleepless. You can diffuse or directly inhale this oil. Although you can also use bergamot in a massage oil, remember that it makes your skin more sensitive to sunlight and other UV light for 24 to 48 hours.
- Roman chamomile is relaxing. You can use it to help relieve restlessness, anxious feelings, depressed feelings, or sleeplessness. The fragrance may also dissipate anger, stabilize your emotions, and help release emotions linked to the past. You can diffuse this essential oil, inhale it directly, or use it in a massage oil. This oil is safe for small children and the frail elderly.
- Juniper supports the digestive system and may increase circulation through the kidneys and promote excretion of toxins. The fragrance evokes feelings of health, love, and peace and may help elevate your spiritual awareness. You can directly inhale or diffuse this oil or use it in a massage oil.
- Lavender is relaxing and may help relieve pain. It can relieve nervous tension and help you sleep. Lavender balances you both physically and emotionally, and studies suggest this oil improves concentration and mental acuity. You can directly inhale or diffuse this oil or use it in a massage oil.
Essential Oil Grief Blends
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
Here's another blend from Massage & Aromatherapy: Simple Techniques to Use at Home that you might try:
- 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 oil 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.
If you have trouble sleeping, see essential oils for insomnia relief.
Photo Credits: Woman by rosmary/Flickr/CC and Candle from MorgueFile