❤️ If you enjoy this podcast, feel free to support the production and get receive even more aromatic wisdom check out my Patreon page! Patreon.com/AromaticWisdom ❤️
This week’s show is all about grief; what it is as well as the many varied situations and experiences that can send us into a state of grief.
I talk about how essential oils can help us during some of the darkest emotional times of our lives. You’ll learn a unique way to choose the right essential oils for your particular emotional difficulty as you’re going through grief. If you or someone you know is in a stage of grief, you’ll find this episode particularly helpful.
Enjoy the podcast. It is my sincere hope that you will feel inspired to explore essential oils deeper after listening and learning what is possible for your health and well-being when you include aromatherapy into your life.
If you have a question, please go to www.aromaticwisdominstitute.com/contact-us to submit your question with “Ask Liz” in the subject line.
To find all the links and resources mentioned in this podcast, go to aromaticwisdominstitute.com/025
Here's the link to my online courses: AromaticWisdomInstitute.com/products
🎓 Courses: AromaticWisdomInstitute.com/products
This podcast may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a small commission if you make a purchase using them. The commission is paid by the retailer at no extra cost to you, and it helps support the show. I only recommend products and services that I personally use and/or trust.
Aromatic Wisdom Podcast Episode #025
Liz Fulcher, Educator
Liz: This is the Aromatic Wisdom podcast, Episode 25. Today’s show is all about grief. I’m going to talk about how to use essential oils in a rather unique way to help you get through the grieving process and to move on and to let go and heal.
Liz: Hi, Everyone. Thanks so much for being here today. My name is Liz Fulcher and I am your host for the Aromatic Wisdom Podcast. Today’s podcast episode is a good one. I really think you’re going to enjoy what I have planned for you.
Before I get into it though, I need to make a correction of something I said in the last podcast, Episode 24 on the Safe Use of Aromatherapy for Children.
I was talking about giving children hydrosols to drink and I gave two different dilution ratios. Early on the podcast I had said 1 teaspoon of hydrosol to 1 cup of water and then later I said 1 tablespoon of hydrosol to1 cup of water. OOPS!
The correct dilution is 1 teaspoon of hydrosol to 1 cup of water.
One tablespoon isn’t going to be harmful and who knows, it could even be more helpful. But, as I always say, start with less and then add more later. Start with one 1 teaspoon and if that isn’t effective, then you can go ahead and move it up to a tablespoon. One teaspoon to one cup of water should be fine for children. Any more than that and, it doesn’t taste very good, can be wasteful.
If you’d like to listen to Episode 24 on the Safe Use of Aromatherapy for Children, here's the link: http://www.aromaticwisdominstitute.com/024. A woman named Robin wrote to me and she heard the discrepancy and just wanted clarity. I’m so glad she wrote! Thank you, Robin! I bet she wasn’t the only one who wondered about that.
Let’s move now into today’s episode on grief, transition, and letting go. This is a big topic. It’s huge and kind of abstract. I’m going to talk first about the things that we grieve about and then I’m going to share a unique way to choose the essential oils that you will use in helping you move through your grief.
You know I love definitions, so I’m going to start with the definition of grief. I found a lot of them and some of them just didn’t resonate with me. I found this one and it just sat well with me:
Grief is a natural response to the loss of something or someone to which we have formed a bond or an attachment. It can also be the feelings of sorrow we experience with change in a familiar pattern of behavior.
That just resonated with me. We usually think of death with grief; certainly we’re going to have grief when there is death, but we can grieve a lot of things that we’ve lost. If you want to get really specific, the term bereavement refers to the specific state of loss. Grief is the reaction to the loss.
A lot of you may have heard of Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, who, 30 years ago, wrote a book on the five stages of grief. If you’ve never heard of them, they are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Those were the emotions that were listed as the process we go through and how we learn to live with loss. I’ve heard that for many years. Personally I don’t think our emotions are as tidy as that. In a way I’ve never been comfortable with this model or framework. Not that we don’t have those emotions but it’s good to know that if you are experiencing one of those five that it’s completely normal. But I also think that you can skip some of those processes, you can by-pass any of them, and that’s normal too.
I’ve had the experience of grieving where I’ve had some of those but not all of those. People have lots of different responses to grief, but really there is no “normal” response to loss. The way we grieve is individual—it’s as individual as we are as humans. When I first outlined this episode, I was just going to call it, “Essential Oils for Grief”. Period. But that just sounded incomplete to me because there is so much that happens beyond just grieving. So, I extended the title to, “Grief, Transition, and Letting Go,” because to me personally, grief, no matter how brief or how small, is still a life-altering experience and I personally, have always experienced it as a three-part process.
We move from knowing the reality of what is, to experiencing the surreal of what will no longer be, to accepting what is—that’s how I see the transition. We know what is and then all of the sudden “what is” is no longer; then we have to accept [the new] “what is”. I don’t know if that makes sense, but I sure hope so. We know that things won’t ever be the same, so we need to grieve. The thing with grief is that we don’t want to get stuck there. You need to keep moving and experiencing your emotions, and keep transitioning until the point where you can let go. That’s only going to happen you know you are healing.
I read a terrific quote that really sums this up for me. It’s very simple, and it goes like this: Let it hurt. Let it bleed. Let it heal. Let it go. To me, that sums up what transition and letting go is all about.
Let it hurt. Let it bleed. Let it heal. Let it go.
Let’s talk about the different kinds of things we actually grieve over. We commonly associate grief with death, most certainly one of the most profound experiences that we can grieve over. There are a lot of other things that people can grieve over, not even realizing it. You could be grieving some things right now and not even be aware of it.
So, here’s a list:
I’m giving this list also to demonstrate the spectrum of grief. It can be something as simple as having lost an item to having lost a spouse. You can see there is a very broad spectrum of grief and you can find yourself on the spectrum, anywhere. It’s all acceptable, and there is no, “oh, it’s not a very important thing that I lost”. If you are grieving, you are grieving and you have to let yourself feel it. What else—we can grieve the loss of our good health when we are ill.
I think you get the picture: to be alive is to experience loss and transition. And you know what? It’s perfectly normal. It’s normal to experience it and it’s also normal to fight it, to struggle against it; it’s what we do. We don’t want to lose that thing, that person, that experience, that look that we used to have. We get angry, irritated, sad; we can’t sleep, we can’t eat, we pout, we cry—this is all part of the grieving process.
How long does the grieving process take? It takes as long as it takes. I’m not being tongue-in-cheek when I say that, but grieving does not have any time frame. A lot depends on the loss, the depth of the loss, a lot will depend on your own personality; it can take weeks, it can take years. But however long it takes, please do not judge yourself, or anyone else, for that matter. Don’t be hard on yourself. A friend of mine lost her cat that she just adored. Even after a year she was still quite heartbroken. It was an older cat and had been her companion for many years. She said she was starting to feel embarrassed because when she would think of her cat and cry, her Mom would berate her and say, “Are you kidding me, it was a cat. Get over it already.” She said, I’m so ashamed. I said, why? Your feelings are your feelings. Remember that when you are in the grieving process you are reshaping who you are. Please honor the journey.
I’ve become somewhat of an expert on grieving an experiencing loss, and on learning to let go. Do you know why? Because I’m a control freak. It’s another way of saying I feel really secure when things are they way I want them to be. But that’s most of us. We get really attached to people, we get attached to routines, and we get attached to whatever is familiar and comfortable. And when whatever we are comfortable with goes away we feel frightened. Just know that whatever the level of your grief, accept it. Know that it’s going to be your passenger for a while, until it’s not. The less you resist the loss the easier it’s going to be to let go of how it should be. Be kind to yourself.
Let’s take a look at how essential oils and the practice of aromatherapy can help to ease the grieving process; how essential oils can nourish us and bring us along this journey from loss to letting go. You might want to get out your pen and paper because I’ve got some good stuff here for you. Essential oils can shift the energy in the body. It can shift energy physically and energetically. By energetically I mean in our etheric body, our energetic body. So we have a physical body and we have an etheric body that is outside our physical body.
Essential oils can provide comfort on all levels, be it physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual. They can help you with some of the darkest and most uncomfortable emotions during grief, like sorrow and hopelessness or deep anger, resentment, guilt—any way you use your essential oils will be effective. You can use them in the bath, in meditation, in massage, in a diffuser, personal inhalers—there are so many different ways you can use
essential oils. There is no wrong way to use them when you are healing grief.
Let me get back to the whole energy thing. So. Grief is a tremendously energetic experience. What do I mean by that? Yes, you feel it in your body for sure, but there is a deeper, subtle experience happening at the soul level. Our precious Mother Earth has so much wisdom and can offer us healing in so many ways. If you’ve been on this plant medicine path for a while, you know what I mean when I say that the plants in our world support and nurture us when we need it the most. Grief is one of those times. Sometimes I think nature is one of the best cures, far and away of anything that’s out there.
Spending time outside in nature is really nourishing for your soul. Just taking a walk; if it is wintertime look at the snow on the trees or the frost on the trees, look at the beauty of the branches; look at the structure of the tree and the wood. Try to connect with nature. Certainly if the weather is nice, you’ve got grass and flowers and an abundance of nature to look at. That is one of the first things I recommend. Just connect with plants. Connect
with nature. Animals are very healing.
Getting back to essential oils, if you choose an essential oil based on the part of the plant from which it was extracted—I want to say that again: if you choose an essential oil based on the part of the plant from which it was extracted—can be so powerful in increasing your health, your energetic, emotional and even your physical health. There is a powerful correlation between the part of the plant and how it resonates with you emotionally. Just to way back track for a second, taking it right back to the basics. For those of you who are new, this may be new information: essential oils are formed in plants. They are formed in different parts of the plants.
For example, Peppermint is an easy one. The glands of the Peppermint plant, the glands that contain the Peppermint oil exist in the leaves, not in the flowers or the roots. So it’s the Peppermint leaves that contain the oil. If you have a Cedarwood tree, the ducts or the glands that contain the essential oil are in the heartwood of the tree, not in the leaves.
The part of that plant where essential oil comes from is going to make an impact on what it does with your body. Let me give you an example: imagine a blend made from oils extracted from flowers—any flowers. I mean there are a lot of essential oil flowers: Rose, Jasmine, Lavender, Ylang Ylang—they are sweet, they are floral—so think about this blend for a minute. What comes to your mind? What part of your body might you feel a blend from flowers in? What part of your body does it resonate with?
Personally, I immediately feel it in my heart: the beauty from the flowers, the sweet aromas, the colors—you’ve got that experience? Okay, now imagine a blend made from root oils: Vetiver, Spikenard—how is this feeling different? Where might you be feeling this in your body? Now this exercise really helps if you are familiar with the way these essential oils smell, but you can do this with any essential oil. Open a bottle of essential oil that comes from a leaf and smell it. Open a bottle of essential oil that comes from a flower. Now smell that. Open a bottle of essential oil that comes from fruit, like lemon. This is a great exercise to do at some point in your day or week when you can just stop and take out a bottle of essential oil. Notice the plant part it comes from and see where it resonates in your body. That is a great way to deepen your relationship with essential oils.
This is way beyond therapeutics and chemistry and all that stuff. Those things are important because we have to have safety and there are rules with essential oils. What I am talking about now is purely energetics and connecting with your essential oils at the soul level.
So now I’m going to share some plants and their parts and how they can have an impact on your grieving, transitioning, and letting go. These are my personal associations with each plant part. You can use this as a guide. A lot of these are widely accepted in healing circles and with people who do work with essential oils working with them energetically. For example that wood oils are grounding. It kind of makes sense. Some are personal and some are just widely accepted. Do remember that if what I share does not resonate with you or if you sense there is something else about that plant part, please honor that. Write it down and use that information. The more you work with essential oils in different ways, whether it’s for cleaning, energetic work, or for the chemistry, the more you are going to deepen your relationship and the more you are going to develop a great understanding of essential oils.
For some of you, if this seems “woo-woo” and way out there, that’s fine. Just keep an open mind and you might be surprised at some of things that can happen with oils and some of your experiences with oils; some of the healing that can take place when you use them in different ways that are outside of your comfort zone.
I knew there was something else I wanted to say. This goes back to honoring what you feel about the oils. This kind of blending is private. It is between you and the oil. Between you and you. Only you know what you need. Again, this is if you are doing work on yourself. If you are doing work with someone else, you will need to have a conversation with them—honor where they are. Of course, always keep safety in mind. That’s the beauty of energetic work—there is no wrong way to do it as long as you are keeping within the parameters of essential oil safety.
Here come the plants!
I had to start with flowers because they are so profoundly healing for the heart, in particular Rose oil. Rose oil resonates with the heart energy. In grief, when your heart is broken, there is nothing like Rose oil to soften that pain.
The oils made from flowers offer new energy. They are tremendously supportive for your emotions. Making a blend from flowers is really about love and friendship and forgiveness and soothing both the heart and the mind. Lavender is a tremendous emotional balancer. Lavender is know as “the great balancer,” so it can really balance
and settle emotions that are way off kilter. There are so many beautiful flower oils, so for each plant category, I’m going to give you five or six oils within that category. Within the flowers you might want to try out Rose, Lavender, Jasmine (is exquisite), Neroli, Roman Chamomile, and Ylang Ylang.
They are all extremely sweet and a little dab’ll do ya with these essential oils. They tend to be expensive, but you do not need much. In particular, when doing energy work, I tend to go to a very low dilution of one 1% that is five to six drops of essential oil to one ounce of carrier.
Your resins are really important when you are feeling wounded and beaten up. When you have been struggling with grief for so long and you, literally, feel like you’ve been beaten up. Let me tell you how the resins are extracted. The tree is “wounded,” so I’m going to use Frankincense as an example. Frankincense is a resin that is familiar to most of us and I’ve seen this process with the Frankincense tree. They take a machete and they actually slice the tree, they wound it. Slicing it causes a reaction from the tree that causes it to heal the wound and it exudes this gorgeous, thick, aromatic resin; it’s trying to heal itself. The correlation is perfect. The resin essential oils are awesome for physical wounds. If your skin is wounded the resins are great to put on there to heal: they cicatrisant and will ease scar tissue. The resins are also great for healing emotional wounds. Historically they’ve been used for meditation; used to make incense for all sorts of rituals, for protection; they can be used for all of these purposes. When you want to show respect to some aspect of your life make a blend with resins.
They are very thick so they are not always my first choice for the diffuser, but may be used in an anointing oil, for example. I’ll talk a little bit about that at the very end; the ways you can use the oils—it’s not going to be my primary purpose for this podcast. But I digress.
Citrus oils are my favorite—I’m putting these in the order of importance to me personally—flowers first, then resins, and now the citrus oils. Grief is not fun. Grief is dark. Grief is heavy. Grief is like a cloud over your head. You could wake up feeling dread, feeling hopeless and the day can just be endless. The citrus oils really help to combat those feelings. They are uplifting. They can relieve that dark feeling of hopelessness. They are very refreshing and smell amazing. I always think about where they grow on the tree, so we have orange and
lemon—these citrus oils—and they are right up there at the top of the tree, stretched out, reaching for the sunshine. With lots and lots of sunshine they are nourished. I guess I think that the energy of the sunshine is in these plants. Think about what a fresh, beautiful energy it brings into your being when you use the citrus oils they lighten the heart and lighten the mind. These are great for the “letting go” phase. My “go to” especially if I am feeling anxiety around loss? It’s always Bergamot. Some people pronounce it BergamoTT, but I’ve always pronounced it Bergamoh. It’s always my first choice because it’s good for relieving anxiety, those feelings of insecurity when your foundation is yanked out from under you.
Safety: Remember, if you are going to be using them on the skin please read my safety guidelines. I’m going to put my safety guidelines in the show notes. It’s actually a blog post I wrote on the safety guidelines—in the show notes I’m going to list my safety guidelines and the blog post about blending dilutions. If you have not seen those before, it’ll be there for you. So what you’ll have is how much to blend and safe ways to blend. The reason I stress safety in particular with the citruses is because some can be phototoxic. If you have them on your skin
and go out into the sun you may have a reaction.
With the wood oils, think about a tree, and think about the role that the trunk plays. Think about the limbs. The trunk, the limbs—they hold it all together, don’t they? They are like the bones of the tree. Essential oils that are extracted from the tree, like Cedarwood and Sandalwood, help us to maintain our core strength. In the last episode, the one on Safe Aromatherapy With Children, I shared how I had my grandson visualizes himself as a
tree when he is scattered while he is smelling Cedarwood. Nothing is going to make you feel more scattered, lose focus, and lose concentration than depression and grief. If your energy is dispersed like that, you can regain your sense of centeredness by using a wood oil. The
essential oils that are great to use for grieving, from the wood of the tree, are Palo Santo, Ho Wood, Rosewood —if you can find it. It’s very, very hard to get right now, and is often adulterated, so be very sure it’s the real thing from your source—Sandalwood, and Cedarwood.
Where I live in Pennsylvania we have a lot of big trees on our property. One year there was a huge wind and a gigantic pine tree just fell over. There are a lot of other smaller trees on the property, and they were completely fine. But this one, gigantic pine tree, just fell over on its side. It fell in the driveway and we were so happy it didn’t fall on the house! When we went outside to look at it, I said to my husband, “What the heck happened?” He said, “Look at the roots.” The roots were weak and couldn’t stand anymore. The roots of a plant provide support; they anchor the plant to the soil. Essential oils that come from plants can support you through times of real instability. They support you feeling grounded, settled, and are very calming. They anchor you. The root oils—the first one I would recommend is Angelica Root. Now, Angelica Root is quite expensive. Sometimes I say if you can find a cheaper oil that can do the same thing, get it, but I have to say that Angelica Root is really good in times of grieving because it helps you feel grounded and connects you with the angels— that’s why it’s called Angelica Root. The other root oils are Ginger, Ply, Spikenard, and Vetiver—I love Vetiver for grounding. It smells like dirt and sometimes I just want that.
Leaves are the respiratory system of the plant. In traditional Chinese medicine the lungs are the seat of grief and sadness. Just pull out your leaf oils when you feel you’re grief is just suffocating you and breathe in new life.
Notice, during the grieving process, if your lungs get sick, whether it’s a chest cold or begin coughing, maybe you get asthma, or some kind of lung congestion—that could be grief that’s stuck in there and these oils can help get that out. Leaf oils are also great as expectorants, so if there is a lot of congestion in your lungs, it can also help you get things out. So many essential oils are drawn from leaves so, there are about ten here that I will list for you.
Ready? Basil, Bergamot Mint, Eucalyptus, Fragonia, Cistus, Laurel Leaf, Peppermint, Spearmint, Rosemary, Ravintsara, and Tea Tree, just to name a few. They help with breathing and to keep that grief moving so you can get it out of your lungs.
I love the conifer cones! Pinecones are some of the most beautiful tree decorations in nature. My husband and I spend a lot of time in the woods and I’m always dragging them home, but then I end up regretting it because they look so out of place out of the woods. They just seem lonely without momma tree hanging over them.
In the years that I lived in Rome, I visited Vatican City a number of times. There is a huge fountain there called La Fontana della Pigna. It literally means, The Fountain of the Pine. There are pinecone statues all over the place; figurines of pinecones all over the place in Rome and in other parts of Italy. If you look at the Staff the Pope carries you’ll see a pinecone on it. The pinecone is the evolutionary precursor to the flower. It’s spines are spiral. If you look at the bottom of a pinecone and look at it, it’s got, what I like to call “sacred geometry”. If you look at a rose or a sunflower, they also have sacred geometry, and a pinecone has the same thing on the bottom.
Throughout recorded human history pinecones have served as a symbolic representation of human enlightenment—not just from the pine tree but, from other conifers. Suffice it for this episode to say that essential oils from cones support the “third eye” or your intuitive center or psychic seat. I save these oils for when I want to talk with whatever is lost. I like these oils also for letting go. The tree cone [oils] are Cypress, Scotch Pine, Siberian Fir, Pinyon Pine, Ponderosa Pine, and White Pine.
In the show notes I will add the links to the blending dilutions and to the safety blogs. If you are new to essential oils, please look at those before you handle essential oils. Or, if you aren’t new and just want to review, go ahead and check those out.
Finally, I’m going to touch on the different ways you can use all of these essential oils while you are grieving. There is diffusion. Mist sprays where you would put essential oils and water together to mist over your heart with a rose oil; you could mist over your head; you can mist in the air and ask for healing from your angels; you can do gentle anointing; or a foot or hand massage. You can make a blend and take it to your massage therapist and ask him or her to massage you with it. You can do a nice, ritual, healing bath with oils. You can work with crystals and essential oils; use them in meditation. There are a lot of ways you can use the essential oils to help you with the grieving process.
I hope that was helpful. And now, to lighten things up a little bit, it’s time for Smell My Life!
In the Smell My Life segment I always like to share a little way in which I used essential oils in my own personal life in the past week. Well, I got a story this week that is so not sexy! I had a mess in my kitchen cupboard. Something with rubber feet kind of disintegrated. I have white laminate on the inside of my cupboards. Something with black rubber feet—I picked it up—it was a scale actually, and the feet disintegrated over time. I don’t know what happened but it was a mess. I picked it up to clean the cabinet, actually, and ended up having to take everything out of the inside of the cabinet. Like a dope, I grabbed a sponge and what I did was make it worse. I thought, “Wait a minute! I know better.” I got Lemongrass essential oil, mostly because it was handy. Lemongrass is pretty good at cutting through gunk and poured it right on the sponge—it’s not going to hurt the laminate, and boom! It just removed it like nothing. Then I just proceeded to clean the whole inside of the cupboards with Lemongrass. So that was a nasty mess that got cleaned up very, very quickly with Lemongrass essential oil. I enjoyed smelling it while I was cleaning with it. My cabinets looked fabulous afterward; I put everything back in. Now, when I open the doors of the cabinet it smells good.
Well, Sweet Listeners, that wraps it up for this week’s podcast on Grief, Aromatic Wisdom Podcast, Episode #25.
If you’d like to make me happy please go on to iTunes, and leave a review, I would love that. I appreciate every single kind review that is left and it helps other people to find the podcast. If you did want to leave a review it’s:
Alright, I’m going to hush now and let you go.
Until next time,
Be happy. Be well.
© Copyright AromaticWisdomInstitute.com
All Rights Reserved
AromaticWisdomPodcast.com Episode #025
Essential Oils for Grief, Transition, and Letting Go
Originally Recorded on September 4, 2016