Sometimes it feels like a weight on your chest. An inability to inhale and exhale completely. A heavy, constricted heart.
In ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine (and I suspect countless other wisdom traditions), grief is connected to the lungs.
It makes sense to me. Every painful loss of my life has been accompanied by a seeming inability to catch my breath. Grief is loss. Whether the loss of life, love, connection, or opportunity - the pain of loss is universal.
Many of us* have heard of the stages of grief. They are often described as Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. The immediate implication of stages is a linear journey. But our healing is cyclical, not linear.
Stages implies a linear progression where we experience one, and then the next, and the next, until we reach acceptance. In reality, this is not the way it has ever worked for me. In grieving I have danced from one stage to another back to the first and skipped over many, as well as found some others - like Guilt and Isolation. And like all healing, when I expected a linear progression, I felt devastated each time I appeared to “regress.”
Not only does the implication of a linear path lead to frustration with ourselves, but it can lead to frustration with others. An impatience that someone else isn’t “over it,” judgment of their “weakness” and rigid expectations that can inadvertently deepen someone else's pain.
Grief is often very complex. Take, for example, the loss of a loved one who has died by suicide, or addiction. Sadness, anger, relief, anxiety and more can all co-exist, even in the very same moment.
“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”
― Jamie Anderson
Grief is love unspent - what a beautiful and apt description of the anguish of grief. Yet, it is when I find the will to spend love again that I have found the most healing. That season, the one that brings me the most healing is the one where I find meaning in the loss. That has been the most profound part for me, every time. Although it has often been the most painful and time consuming one to reach, it is the one that has allowed me to access and heal the deepest wounds, accessing more healing each time I pass through it.
Using essential oils** to support me in grieving has been very powerful. Try these to support you as you shift through your cycles of grief.
I recommend applying daily, ideally twice, over heart, when processing loss. Also use as needed throughout your day to shift through tough emotions. Feel free to layer oils and combine oils you feel drawn to - the more we use oils, the more we reawaken our intuition for what we need most.
Melissa - use when experiencing the shock and trauma of loss.
Rose, the oil of divine love, helps to mend a broken heart and remind you how loved you truly are.
Lime, the oil of zest for life, is great to use when you feel an inability to feel joy or guilt around enjoying life despite loss.
Console, the oil of consolation, is soothing and comforting when that is what is most needed.
Breathe, the oil of breath, is ideal when the sadness, loneliness are too much to bear, or when we feel constricted.
Douglas Fir, the oil of generational wisdom, is a good oil to use for loss of an elder. It encourages wisdom and learning from ancestral patterns.
Geranium, the oil of love and trust, promotes love and trust when feelings of abandonment and distrust are prevalent or the heart is hardened and cold.
Deep Blue, the oil of surrendering pain, is ideal when feeling resistant to accepting the pain and emotions that come with grief.
Forgive, the oil of forgiving, helps us release bitterness, judgment, resentment, blame, and cynicism.
Siberian Fir is especially helpful as we progress and become ready to find meaning and perspective in the experience of loss.
Manuka, the oil of being upheld, invites us, when we are ready, to transform our suffering into purpose as we recognize the divine in all things.
These tools have given me so much solace through sorrow. I hope this information does the same for you. Comment here or message me with your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!
*As with everything I share, I am not an expert. I am simply a woman on her own healing journey sharing my ever deepening and expanding Truth.
**My suggestions and recommendations are based on doTERRA essential oils. Here's why.