Grief is something that everyone experiences in different ways. After you lose someone you feel like your heart has been torn into pieces. It is raw, heart wrenching and seemingly unending. As the years pass these feelings ebb away, soften and slowly recede into the distance. You look back and wonder what has changed. You remember birthdays, anniversaries and special days. Then out of the blue something comes to catch you out!
A friend posted this on Facebook recently:
‘A Belgian Bun just reduced me to tears. That and a little old lady in the Sainsbury’s cafe. The combination reminded me so much of buying particular types of cakes when shopping with my mother as a small child that I was overwhelmed by an enormous sense of loss. Tears and all.’
I always struggle at this time of year. Ian’s birthday and the anniversary of his death are within 10 days of each other. Autumn has never been my favourite season as the days get colder, the nights longer and dampness seems to fill the air warning of the winter to come. These two things seem to make an unhappy mix of emotions that I struggle to keep in check. It’s 15 years this week since Ian (known in the folk world as Tufty Swift) passed away, leaving me and a 5 month old Benammi on a dark cold night after a short but difficult battle with a brain tumour (it was always going to win). Since then we’ve looked after each other, been hugged and loved by my new partner Pete (who also lost a best friend) and many other kind, loving friends as well as family who have looked out for us along the way.
Training as an aromatherapist was part of my salvation. I’ve found essential oils that calm my breathing, soothe the tears and provide support when things come to catch me out. I’ve listed a few of my ‘go to’ oils below.
Frankincense (Boswellia carteri)
This deep smoky resinous smell instantly calms me and settles my breathing (I developed stress related asthma after Ian’s death). Used in meditation it helps settle the mind, deepen the breathing and clear ‘chatter’ from the mind. Gill Farrer-Halls describes it as ‘smelling divine’ and notes it for helping to break links with the past
Grapefruit (Citrus paradisi)
Citrus with a twist – I love the sharp fruity smell of Grapefruit. A colleague who is a trauma counsellor recommended it for clearing away thoughts that keep repeating themselves. It is wonderfully uplifting, brightening and bringing some warmth to a dull day. Battaglia notes that it has an uplifting and reviving effect
Bergamot (Citrus bergamia)
The wonderful rich smell of bergamot always lifts my spirits, creating light and positivity. Patricia Davis writes ‘when people are experiencing grief many people close their Heart chakras making them unable to give or receive love’. She notes how Bergamot can through its uplifting, calming and joyous effect work to assist healing and reopening of this Chakra.
Sweet Marjoram (Origanum marjorana)
There is something settling and calming about the smell of Sweet Marjoram – it’s like being wrapped in a soft fleecy blanket, protected from everything. Davis notes it as helping to ease loneliness and grief.
‘A hug in a bottle’
Into an empty 10ml bottle stuff some cotton wool, and then add:
2 drops Frankincense
2 drops Sweet Marjoram
2 drops Bergamot
Add a label and keep close to hand (pocket or handbag) and sniff as required.
Subtle Aromatherapy – Patricia Davis
The Aromatherapy Bible – Gill Farrer Halls
The Complete Guide to Aromatherapy – Salvatore Battaglia