The Orange Tree Holistic Guide to Grief

Updated: Jan 10


"The feeling we used to call GRIEF is really just cashing in our 'LOVE chips' at the casino. We've loved this person or situation for so long that when they die or leave we re-inherit all the love we had for them in one short blast. All that LOVE returning to us so suddenly feels really intense. It can be very uncomfortable in the body to experience such an unexpected blast of emotion - so we automatically label it as something negative and call it GRIEF. But it's really just concentrated LOVE returning all at once.

As a tree grows, it absorbs years and years of sunlight gently over decades. Yet when we burn a log we release all that century of sunlight in half an hour of intense, concentrated heat and light. This is what's happening when the love returns to us that we had invested in the form and personality of the one who’s gone. We call it GRIEF but it's really years of LOVE returning intensely all at once."

~Jaime Catto




The important thing to remember when going through grief is that there is no "acceptable" time-frame within which you are supposed to be 'OK' again. Truly the journey of grief is said to take 7 years. My experience has taught me that you never really "get over" the loss of a loved one. You simply learn to live without them. You learn to fill that big void you feel in your life from where they once were with love for yourself. And gradually, over time the memories that feel so painful to hold right now, will turn to warm balls of fuzzy glow inside you that you treasure beyond words. Have you called upon your spirit guides and angels for support? They can't help you if you don't ask them for help...


Death is one of the biggest taboo subjects there is, in the west. And yet it is one of the only certain things we can expect from life. It is, in fact, the only thing that makes being alive possible. (Thanks to the dual nature of the universe we live in!) Yet if you look toward the Buddhist religion, death is revered as an important part of the life cycle. It is discussed and prepared for not feared.



Society is generally unsympathetic towards grief. We are given a 2 week statutory leave period from work and then life continues as normal. People stop asking if you're ok and, if they do, they don't really want to hear that actually your world has crumbled to pieces and all you want to do is hide away in your bed and be held and nurtured.... This is such an important part of your healing. Finding someone who you can talk to about all the things that are coming up for you during this transition. A lot of people who are dealing with grief tend to end up with a closed or blocked Throat chakra. This is from when we hide our true authentic self for fear of rejection or shame and all those E-motions (just energy in motion!) in there don't feel heard. Unheard emotions just mound up and...trust me...they aren't half heavy to carry around with you day after day! Try starting a journal or record yourself talking into your phone. Everything you're feeling. Allow yourself to connect to those emotions... to really allow them to be heard and therefore released.



There are many types of holistic healing practices that can help you through this difficult time including crystals, aromatherapy, flower remedies, meditations, mantras and foods.


Crystals


Rose-Quartz


Rose quartz is an incredibly compassionate stone. It is associated with unconditional love, or to put it in terms of witchcraft, of “Perfect Love and Perfect Trust”. It is strongly aligned with the Heart Chakra, and is one of my birthstones as a Taurus. As it is aligned with the heart chakra it helps to rebalance shock and trauma in the heart region, including the feelings of grief and loss associated with death.

. Rose quartz can allow us to accept changes in our lives and there is no change that is more difficult for the living to process than Death itself. It can be effective to bless your Rose quartz with Lavender and Rose essential oils in order to bring forth its power to help heal during the grieving process.


Apache Tear


The Apache Tear is a very powerful stone, which aligns very well with the Powers of Anubis. Its energy is more gentle than the typical obsidian, so although it is a form of obsidian and carries many of obsidian’s properties, it is less shocking for the heart to process during grief.

When a person grieves it can often take a physical toll on the body. This can be due to the fact that our aura or spiritual body is weakened by these feelings of loss, and the shock and trauma that we feel when Death takes someone we love can act as a drain on that energy. Apache Tears help to protect the aura from further drain and damage and has been historically used to help during the grieving process and times of sorrow. This stone is also a very compassionate stone


Onyx


Onyx is a very powerful stone to use during the grieving process. Not only does Onyx help when we are feeling enormous stress on our bodies and minds, which grief can exacerbate, it is an incredibly supportive stone, allowing us to grieve while protecting us from tipping over into negative patterns which depression can lead to.

Onyx can bring strength to our weakened and aching bodies and souls. It is an incredibly healing stone, but must be cleansed regularly as it can draw in negative energy, especially when dealing with very powerful emotions like grief, loss and depression.


Moonstone 


Moonstone is particularly powerful and can sometimes be too overpowering for people to use who are sensitive to the moons energy. I’ve heard people who are particularly psychically inclined say that they prefer to temper moonstone with other crystals.

Moonstone is particularly helpful to bring emotions back into the body gently. As the moonstone is strongly linked to the moon it can help to understand the cycles of change and the cycle of grief. As it is a stabilizing stone it can help to bring feelings of calm when you are feeling too overwhelmed by emotions. Moonstone is a powerful healer on an emotional level, so it is particularly effective to use during the grieving process.


Amethyst


Amethyst is a powerful stone that operates on many levels. It is a very cleansing and protective stone which is important during the grieving process. In ancient times people would construct rituals and protective wards against certain spirits during times of grief, as they understood that in a place where someone has died, those very powerful emotions that come with grief can attract unwanted forces and entities. The amethyst is therefore an excellent stone that can help defend against any of these things when we might struggle to detect them while we are experiencing grief.

Amethyst is also a powerful healer, and when used in conjunction with rose quartz and the apache tear it can be very effective in beginning the process of healing during times of loss. It is also a very calming and soothing stone, so it is ideal for when we need to ground stray emotions after a cathartic release. During times of loss and grief, it is a very supportive stone and would work well in conjunction with Onyx as well.


Carnelian


The intense orange provides strength during these difficult times, allowing you to move through feelings of depression and worry.

I list this stone as I feel that in cases of long illness, where death is likely, this stone can help to deal with the many difficult emotions one might be feeling, including resentment, anger and the beginning stages of grief. It is very helpful to alleviate fears surrounding death, and is a protective stone that can be used during funerary rites as an amulet for those who have died, and therefore it is appropriate to bury the deceased with a piece of Carnelian.



Food

Some of the best foods for helping you through difficult times such as this are as follows:

1. High-quality vegetarian protein

Think legumes, coconuts, and nuts.  These light proteins will help pull your energy up.

2. Stop smoking

It’s not really a food, but it’s worth mentioning anyhow.  Smoking clogs your third-eye and clouds your aura.

3. Avoid saturated fats

Saturated fats lead to poor blood circulation in the brain, which leads to depression.

4. Avoid caffeine and sugar

These weaken the adrenals and nervous system.  Acidifying the blood, they make you more irritable.

5. Tryptophan-rich foods

They contain serotonin, which helps regulate your moods.  Try bananas, figs and dates.

6. Raw fruit and vegetables

Fresh produce strengthens the organs and the brain.

7. Drink lots of fresh vegetable juice

Strengthens the nervous system.

8. Get your vitamins

Get biotin, folic acid, and B vitamins into your diet.  Magnesium and potassium also help.

9. Drink lots of water

Hydration helps soothe the nervous system.

10. Dates

Easy to digest, dates bring quality energy to the body.




Bachs flower remedies


Rescue Remedy – Dr Bach’s original formula for severe trauma and stress. Rescue Remedy is a combination of 6 essences that restore clarity and calm, and reduce panic and shock. Rescue is a good choice for survivors whenever death has occurred suddenly and unexpectedly, as well as when the individual has passed after a long, physically and/or emotionally arduous period.

Water Violet – the Bach flower essence specifically indicated for the processing of grief. Water Violet is called for when the dog or person withdraws from company, seeking solace in isolation. While it is natural for many to seek solitude, and even avoid dealing with feelings, for a period of time when ill or traumatized, if this continues overlong it can result in unhealthy emotional “blockages”.  Water Violet helps bring feelings to the forefront so that the individual can process his emotions. In dogs and people, Water Violet helps restore the individual’s normal level of desire to interact with others. In people, Water Violet typically will bring on a short-term release of tears as grief is released and processed.

Honeysuckle – the flower remedy for those who pine away for lost loved ones, living overmuch in the memory of what was. Honeysuckle helps regain normal, healthy remembrance while allowing one to move on and face the present hopefully.

Gorse – the remedy of choice when the dog or person seems to have lost hope. In dogs and people, this can be indicated by downcast eyes, sagging body language, and general lack of vitality. Gorse is often called for after a long ordeal, or repeated setbacks (see also Gentian).

Gentian – the flower essence for setbacks.  Some individuals (dogs and people) are prone to taking difficult life events to heart, and losing faith that life is overall good. Even strong, resilient individuals can suffer doubt and disheartening after a series of challenging events. Gentian restores resilience. It is often combined with Gorse to good effect.

Olive – the Bach remedy for exhaustion. Consider Olive when death has been followed by long illness and/or emotional struggle within the household. Olive restores emotional energy, and in doing so, improves the ability to regain physical energy and stamina.

Hornbeam – an excellent choice when grief drains one’s enthusiasm about life. Hornbeam is called for to counteract the “Monday morning feeling” of simply not having the energy, interest, or enthusiasm to start the day. Hornbeam restores enthusiasm for life.

Star of Bethlehem – the remedy specifically for shock, pain, and numbness brought on by trauma. Star comforts and soothes after traumatic events, and is a good alternative to Rescue Remedy when there is pain and emotional suffering without panic.

Elm –for overwhelm. Indicated when this loss has added yet another strain, and the dog or person appears hard pressed to handle one more thing. Elm restores stamina



Essential Oils

Below is a short list of just of a few of the oils that can be used for grief. I’ve provided a short description of their useful properties where grief is concerned, but don’t go totally by the description. If the description resonates with you but the smell doesn’t, you need to find another oil. Sometimes the one I needed in the moment was not the one I would logically have chosen. When it comes to using essential oils, especially for emotional issues, always trust your nose.


Neroli

A very soothing oil and wonderful to use in times of grief. It is especially helpful to aid you in moving through the emotional stress, anxiety, depression, and stress of deep loss.


Frankincense

Neither soothing nor uplifting but extremely beneficial if you’re dealing with grief-related depression. It has a very calming effect on the spirit and helps foster/strengthen your link to the Divine, which is often weakened when we lose a loved one. Frankincense is also extremely calming to the mind and can help keep your mind from racing with all the woulda, coulda, shouldas that tend to bombard the mind of those who are left behind.


Neroli/Frankincense blend

The best of both oils in one convenient blend. This blend will help you to interact with people instead of retreating to a separate room away from everyone.


Lavender

Very calming. It works particularly well on the depression, anxiety, guilt, and shame that often accompany grief.


Jasmine absolute

(Not really an essential oil since the delicate jasmine leaves don’t hold up to the rigors of the steam distillation required to create an essential oil, but used in the same way.) This a superbly soothing oil for every aspect of emotional well-being.


Rose

Soothing and especially helpful for the despair and shock associated with grief and loss. Rose is sometimes too much in the initial stages of grief, when other emotions need to be addressed first. You’ll know it’s too soon if the smell isn’t pleasing or soothing to you.


Melissa

Uplifting and calming.  It can bring acceptance, clarity, and understanding when you’re experiencing shock, grief, anger, and/or fear.


Bergamot

An uplifting oil. When it’s not enough to just soothe the stress, depression, or anger of loss, bergamot can help you remember that yes, you will eventually feel happiness and joy again.


Orange (and lemon and grapefruit)

These are sunshine in a bottle. There is always light to balance darkness, and the citrus oils will help you find the light that’s left in your life when the loss of death has you in its dark grip.


Rosemary

Uplifting as well as energizing. It can help you move through the feelings of anger that are often associated with depression. It’s also a stimulating oil, which means it can help you stay awake and present if you’ve been having a difficult time staying awake. Caution: Except in rare cases, don’t use rosemary within about 6 hrs of bedtime. Trust me on this one.


Cypress

Imparts calm, strength, and understanding that grief is a long process that can’t be short circuited. It helps immensely with acceptance and moving forward.


Spikenard

Both calming and grounding, a valuable oil to have in your grief toolbox. Spikenard will not only help ease deep-seated grief and sadness, it is also a powerful sleep aid. It is especially useful in those instances when your grief brings old, unresolved emotional pain to the surface.

It’s impossible, even with some amazing essential oils, to spare someone from the deep grief that they’re going to experience when someone close to them dies; nor should we. But the right essential oils can help them function when they need to, reduce anxiety and depression, as well as help facilitate their ultimate acceptance of the loss. In short, it can help them to move through the process with a bit more ease than they otherwise would.

You may wish to try blending some of these oils, as you will get a greater effect than using the oils



Colour