We often regard conversations that deal with sorrow, sadness, or grief as negative and unpleasant. However, we all experience grief at one time or another. And although it’s no bowl of cherries, it’s nevertheless a normal part of an emotionally healthy life. Yes, understanding and processing this emotion properly is vital to an overall happy, healthy life. Allow me to explain why I think it’s so important to discuss.
In the past month, I experienced three situations that brought me face to face with a grieving state of mind. Now that I’ve gone through that dark tunnel and come back into the sunlight, it occurs to me that allowing grief to fully possess our being is not only necessary but also cleansing and healing. Holding back our feelings of grief is a sure way to develop heart trouble (but more about that later in this article).
Because we’re all certain to meet up with grief over the course of our life, I thought to share some helpful coping mechanisms and offer a few natural grief remedies that can help heal the body and spirit. Many thanks for the ear.
The Many Faces of Grief
Many of us are accustomed to thinking that true grief comes exclusively with the passing of someone we love. However, that’s not necessarily always true. Grief is generally the result of a great loss in our life, and it can be perceived or real.
Grief has many faces and forms. We may not always realize that we’re in a state of grief, but we must actively work with the emotion so it doesn’t turn into a perpetual state of depression and cause serious havoc in our life. I see this is the case with many of my depressed clients.
My Three Recent Grieving Experiences
When we lose someone we care for, it can cause the type of sadness that leads to grief. But I’m now convinced that grief can also be caused by the loss of our health or any part of our body, even a minor part.
When we simply have a turn of bad luck unassociated with the type of loss I mention above, we primarily experience feelings of anxiety and fear. But in my humble opinion, that’s not true grief. Let me briefly describe my three experiences. I would then like to share my recommendations on how to start the process of healing.
#1. The Loss of a Tooth
A few months back, I experienced the loss of one of my front teeth, which caused an old root canal I had in my early twenties to give way. At the moment it didn’t seem too tragic. However, once I was in the dentist’s chair, he informed me that I’d need a very expensive implant—one that’s unaffordable to me at present—in order to repair it. I was unexpectedly overwhelmed with a great sense of loss and sorrow as tears streamed down my face. The feeling was simply wrenching and much different than just disappointment. My body understood at that moment that part of it was now gone forever. I was in a state of grief for what I perceived was a great loss. A part of me had died.
#2. A Dear Friend Lost Part of His Leg
As the result of an unfortunate motorcycle accident, my friend, a young husband and father of two small children, lost part of his leg. He also nearly lost his right arm, which may never recover, and had numerous internal injuries. In effect, his life is forever changed. Although this was not my personal loss, my feelings went from shocked to deep grief because he was one of our well-known parishioners, and I felt as if I experienced some small part of his family’s misfortune.
#3. My Good Neighbor and Friend Passed Away
I wrote about this fine lady in my blog post “Wanna Have a Much Better Next Year?” It started as just an ordinary day when I happened to notice she wasn’t up and around as usual with her dog. I called her family, and when they arrived they discovered she’d had a massive stroke. She did live another day, and I had the opportunity to call a priest to administer the last rites. A deep sense of grief ensued, and that sense of loss was with me for many days.
The Feelings of Grief
In looking for a good definition of grief, I came upon this quote: “Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.” I somewhat concur with this sentence as each individual will experience this emotion differently. Below are some suggestions for dealing with grief, both from my own files and from some other sources that I recommend.
More About Grief and Some Great Remedies
Suzan Tobias Scholl (owner of Lady of the Lake Herbals) published a wonderful article on the many facets of grief in the May-June 2016 issue of The Essential Herb. She explains how grief is a multifaceted response to loss. She also makes the point that the emotional impact of grief produces the stress hormone cortisol, which may weaken our immune system and cause other serious physical and psychological changes, including breathlessness, weakness, and tension, to name a few.
Scholl explains that grief can be alleviated with the use of aromatherapy (essential oils) and nervines (herbs that specifically help the nervous system). Following are some of her recommendations. A good reference for further research and the effect of these essential oils can be found on this website Herbs 2000.
Essential oils: Sudanese black rose, neroli, rose, lemon balm, frankincense, and geranium.
Nervines: milky oat seed, passionflower, blue vervain, hawthorn, and, of course, lavender.
Another wonderful resource is the book Adaptogens by respected herbalists David Winston and Steven Maimes, in which Winston talks extensively about his “Grief Relief Formula.” I’ve spoken to numerous people about this formula, and they offered nothing but high praise for its efficacy. I highly recommend you keep a bottle on hand!
Desert Alchemy Flower Essences are also very powerful stabilizing and harmonizing agents. Owner Cynthia Athina Kemp Scherer creates custom formulas that can help calm the mind and help you go through the grief process in peaceful self-reflection. And, drawing on nutritional support from Standard Process, Min-Chex and Min-Tran are mild calmatives to help with emotional balance.
Last but not least there is great option for you to bring closure if someone you know has experienced the loss of a loved one, or that of a beloved pet. The remembrance gifts on this website are a perfect way to share your concern and condolences.
Personal note: Soon after my brother lost his wife, he was diagnosed with a condition where lesions could be seen in his heart, and it could be traced back to the time when her death occurred. Let’s face it—prolonged grief is a serious condition that we should try to remedy as soon as possible.
My Personal Recovery from Grief
Because I have access to a extensive group of holistic Standard Process practitioners, I was able to mobilize and strengthen my body with SP whole food supplements and MediHerb formulas to help me start moving on from the initial phase of my sorrow towards more rational thinking and a spiritual assessment of how to perceive my losses and deal with them logically. In closing, I hope I have given you a ray of sun in this article, if perchance you are grieving. My love to you. (Hug)[xyz-ihs snippet=”Begin-Authors-Note”]
Afterthoughts from the Traditional Cook
If you’re unable to help yourself with the remedies I’ve suggested above, I recommend seeking some form of counseling. In my case I was able to discuss my situation with a good friend and also with my parish priest. Additionally, I made every effort to accept the reality of my losses and, most importantly, started working toward solutions rather than mentally processing them constantly. Accepting the fact that pining away my days and nights wouldn’t change anything was a big part of my recovery.
The important message here is to realize that grief isn’t just a mild form of depression or disappointment, or even the result of a bad turn of events. It’s real, and it can be highly damaging.
Maria Atwood, CNHP[xyz-ihs snippet=”End-Authors-Note”]
Note from Maria: I am a Certified Natural Health Professional, CNHP, not a medical doctor. I do not diagnose, prescribe for, treat, or claim to prevent, mitigate, or cure any human diseases. Please see your medical doctor prior to following any recommendations I make in my blogs or on my website.
Images from iStock/splendens (main), fotojog (hand in window), Chadked (butterfly).