Updated: Sep 26, 2018
Essential oils have changed my life in so many ways. One of the most significant ways in which they helped me was with grief. When my dad passed away unexpectedly in 2016, it cracked me wide open.
Grief is described as the commonly emotional response to an external and consciously recognized loss.
I was living in New York City at the time, working in a job I hated where I was about to reach my breaking point. My dad's passing from alcoholism was the biggest catalyst for change and growth in my life. I'll never forget the phone call I received while I was at my job and just crying after in the busy streets.
This was my first experience with grief with someone close to me. My relationship with my father was complicated and I hadn't spoken to him in a while when he passed. To cope, I saw a therapist and my primary care doctor prescribed Zoloft and Xanax to help manage the grief so that I could keep working.
I started out with a small dose and slowly built up until I was on 75 mg of Zoloft. It was too much to mix with alcohol so I had to abstain from it. This was my first time on psychoactive medication. The medicine seemed to help, in the way that it felt like it was numbing the pain. I didn't feel or express the grief it just felt like a heavy dark cloud that I couldn't see through.
Because of this, I looked for other practical and natural ways to help manage and express this grief. I read a book called "It's Okay That You're Not Okay" by Megan Devine, listened to Jack Kornfield podcasts, and I was lucky to have my family therapist at home (who had worked with my dad) who I could talk to on the phone. He told me it was so important just to cry every time the grief came up like a wave, and to not suppress it.
Grief in this instance was a totally healthy response, and I learned to make friends with it instead of repressing it, which is what I had previously done with my emotions up until that point.
Along with daily meditation, I read online that there were specific essential oils meant to help with grief. I started using Frankincense and Ylang Ylang in my diffuser, and on the go I would just smell the bottles. These two oils hold a special place in my heart because they are what got me through one of the most difficult periods of my life.
Grief doesn't always have to be a result from the death of a person, it can also come up when you let go of something like a change in jobs, a move, a break up with a partner, or in my case when I got sober in 2016.
I ended up having the courage to leave the career I hated and start a new business in the essential oils, and a lifestyle which was much more aligned with my values. I used doTERRA's Peace and Forgive roller blends during this transition period, they helped me make peace and start new. I also made the decision to come off the medication at the end of 2017, under the supervision of my therapist.
There were side effects of the medication (weight gain, dry mouth, disrupted sleep, depression and brain fog) I wasn't enjoying particularly, and the oils were helping me so much to manage my emotions and mood - so much so that I didn't need the medication anymore: even though my therapist wanted me to stay on it for the long term.
You may be wondering how exactly do essential oils work in this way?
Since the brain is the origin and relayer of messages that produce emotions, and the brain functions on a chemical level, it stands to reason that natural remedies with strong chemical messages (essential oils are naturally occuring volatile compounds) can help balance the very processes that need assistance.
When inhaled, essential oils enter the olfactory system and pass the olfactory bulb, which leads directly to the limbic center of the brain. In this way oils actually stimulate and signal the brain to function properly, such as in producing enough serotonin.
The difference between synthetic medication and essential oils, is that medication provides the extra serotonin instead of signaling the brain to produce it itself, which then makes the brain believe it doesn't need to produce serotonin anymore if it's receiving it from an outside source. This is how it it's so easy to become dependent on this type of medication.
Essential oils are excellent support for effectively reprogramming the stress response on a chemical level. On a physiological cellular level, the body's descent into fight-or-flight is interrupted, and the body is quickly able to shift towards homeostasis. This is so important because when stress becomes chronic extremely serious situations can result, and over time the neuroplasticity of the brain is compromised. All this leads to is depression, anxiety, and chronic conditions, like back pain, headaches, fatigue, serious digestive issues, and more.
I went the natural route because I intuitively knew it was best for me, and I'm so grateful that there are these tools made from plants that facilitate healing, with no side effects! Now I feel at peace, and able to take care of myself. This means I still process the tears and feelings that sometimes come up in a healthy way.
These are the top essential oils for grief.
Do use them in your time of need or pass this on to a friend or family member who is experiencing grief. You can use them in the diffuser (I use the Lumo), simply smelling them from the bottle, or topically on temples and back of neck in a roller blend.
* By the way, 75-85% of essential oils out on the market are adulterated. This industry is so unregulated, simply Googling oils doesn't help. I made that mistake and started out with crappy quality oils from Amazon. The solution is to find an expert or teacher in your area! I only recommend doTERRA essential oils because of their excellent quality standards, ethical business practices, sustainable farming, and affordability - that's why I partnered with them as a Wellness Advocate. Shop these oils on my Essential Oils page
Breathe Respiratory Blend
Console Comforting Blend
Serenity Soothing Blend
Forgive Renewing Blend
Peace Reassuring Blend