Sunday, April 25, 2010

Essential Oils Help in Recovery

Editor's Note:
I found this Ezine article by Linda Smith, director of the Institute of Spiritual Healing & Aromatherapy, about using essential oils in grief recovery to be quite interesting and thought I would pass it on to you. Thanks, Linda.

Grief and sorrow are part of the human condition-we all get to have this experience more than once in our life time. As we have learned, there are stages that we go through in working through grief and sorrow to a place of acceptance and eventually to moving beyond our grief to living our life once again. Essential oils can help in that process and ease the burden.

What Oils Are Helpful?

Bergamot-(Citrus bergamia)- the medical properties of this oil are calming. Bergamot offers hormonal support and is antidepressant. The citrus fragrance relieves anxiety and has mood lifting qualities. It can be used for agitation, depression, and insomnia. It can be diffused or directly inhaled. Be careful to avoid applying to skin that will be exposed to sunlight or UV light within 36 hours since bergamot is phototoxic to the skin.

Roman Chamomile--(Chamaemelum nobile)-the medical properties of this wonderful oil include being relaxing, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory , and it detoxifies blood and liver. It can be used for relieving restlessness, anxiety, depression, insomnia, and skin conditions such as dermatitis. The fragrance may also dispel anger, stabilize the emotions, and help release emotions linked to the past. You can diffuse it or inhale directly as well as apply it directly to the skin. This is a very safe oil and is often used with small children and the frail elderly.

Juniper--(Juniperus osteosperma)- This is a universal oil that is a digestive cleanser/stimulant, increases circulation through the kidneys and promotes excretion of toxins, and is detoxifying. The fragrance evokes feeling of health, love, and peace and may help elevate one's spiritual awareness. You can directly inhale or diffuse this oil as well as apply it directly to the skin or dilute it with a good carrier oil.

Lavender-- (Lavandula angustafolia)- the medical properties of this universal healing oil include being analgesic, relaxing, and anti-inflammatory. It is very effective for insomnia and nervous tension. Lavender balances both physically and emotionally and has been shown to dramatically improve concentration and mental acuity. You can directly inhale or diffuse this oil and apply it undiluted on the skin or diluted for a massage. Be sure you are using therapeutic essential grade Lavender, it is often extended with hybrid lavender or synthetic linalool and linalyl acetate which are two key constituents of the oil.

What About Some Known Essential Oil Blends-Which Ones Help in Grief and Sorrow?

Valor-balances energies to instill courage, confidence, and self esteem. I have found this blend helpful in realigning both balance and alignment in the body. Ingredients are rosewood, blue tansy, frankincense and spruce in a sweet almond oil carrier.

Release -this blend helps release anger and memory trauma from the liver in order to create an emotional well being. Letting go of negative emotions and frustrations enables one to progress in a positive way. The ingredients are ylang ylang, lavandin, geranium, sandalwood , and blue tansy in a carrier oil of organic olive oil.

Harmony-promotes physical and emotional healing by creating a harmonic balance for the energy centers of the body. This blend is one I personally use every single day. It brings us into harmony with all things, people and cycles of life. It is beneficial in reducing stress and amplifying well-being. It combats feelings of discord and is uplifting and elevating to the mind thus creating a positive attitude.
Forgiveness -this is a favorite oil requested by my students in my courses on emotional release work (ERT or Emotional Release Therapy) with essential oils. It helps one to release hurt feelings, insults, and negative emotions. It contains rose, melissa, helichrysum, angelica, frankincense, sandalwood, lavender, bergamot, geranium, jasmine, lemon, palmarosa, Roman chamomile, rosewood and ylang ylang.

Gratitude -another favorite oil which for me is very grounding. It elevates, soothes and brings relief to the body while helping to foster a grateful attitude. It contains Idaho balsam fir, frankincense, myrrh, galbanum, ylang ylang and rosewood.

Present Time -as the name indicates, this oil helps to create a feeling of being in the moment. In grief and sorrow there is often the problem of living in the past with difficulty moving into the present or future. This blend contains neroli, ylang ylang and spruce.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Having Good Memories of Your Child

I have a suggestion for all bereaved parents to call up positive memories of your child.

First you need to find a quiet place in your home with no distractions, sit in a comfortable chair and with pen and paper or on your computer, jot down a few phrases of every good memory you can think of related to your child. Make the memory phrases just long enough so it is clear in your mind. You may end up with 25, 50, or even over 100. They can be in any order of age. You can rearrange later. Make sure they are labeled. They can be labeled by year, by events, by honors, by family gatherings, by humor, or by whatever you’d like.

It may be difficult at first to think of many things because you are consumed by the child’s death, but as time moves forward, many of the memories will return as your mind begins to focus once again.

Go back over these memories and select 10 of them. For each of these 10, write as much as you can remember about the memory. In other words, tell a story. Use these 10 memories when appropriate or relate the story to friends or family members that may live out of town and were not an everyday presence in your child’s life. One of the best places to talk about these memories is at family dinners or holiday events where others may reminisce as well about their children.

When you have gone through these 10 memories with everyone suitable to hear them, put them aside and start on another 10. Repeat these stories to others and so on, so that you always have stories and reasons to talk about your child. You can always come back to many of them, depending on the situation. For example, a story I remember about my daughter I like to talk about relates to when she was in a beauty contest at 4-years-old and was finally called to the stage to be interviewed. Her personality really shinned when she had the whole audience in hysterics as she demonstrated very dramatically with stories and expressions what it was like waiting back stage for hours.

Typically, people will be afraid to bring up your child’s name for fear it will hurt you and make you sad. I think just the opposite happens for me. When someone brings up my child’s name and asks a question, I am so happy to talk about her, and in turn, that shows others they do not have to be afraid that you will be upset. What makes me upset is when others ignore the fact that I even had a child!

Keep these memories in a file so you don’t lose them. However, don’t dwell on them or focus exclusively on them and ignore the present. That is not healthy. These memories will always be fun to look back on years later when the pain is less severe and the memories begin to fade. These are the types of memories you always want to reinforce in your heart and mind because we will never, nor do we want to, forget our children.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Precious Conversations in Grieving

Editor's note: When speaking to my friend Sandra Howlett, grief educator and facilitator in the Phoenix, AZ, area, she explained the concept of "precious conversations" to me in relationship to journaling your grief, and I found it very interesting. I'd like to share with you what she told me. Perhaps you can find a specialist in your area who does this type of journaling that might be of help to you.

"One of the most painful parts of grief is the sense of absolute separation from loved ones. Parents often carry unwarranted guilt and regret causing them additional agony on top of their near unbearable sadness. Most people yearn for the opportunity to reach out to their children for at least one more conversation. Many grief stricken parents visit psychics and mediums in an effort to connect with their children or other loved ones who have died. While this may be helpful, it is sometimes impractical, expensive and holds the potential for manipulation and fraud."

Precious Conversations is an experiential session that taps into the inner wisdom of the individual to facilitate a written dialogue between participants and anyone they choose, living or dead. The methodology is Jungian based and patterned on the work of the late Dr. Ira Progoff, founder and author of At a Journal Workshop. I've been using this method for over 15 years and have had extensive experience in Progoffian journaling techniques. I incorporate dialogue journaling in bereavement support groups as well as 1 to 1 work with clients.

It is a safe, simple process that opens hearts and offers comfort and reassurance. Its objectives are to create a list of life steppingstones, suspend logic and judgment to explore the process of dialogue journaling and to write dialogue conversations with loved ones.

Dr. Howletts' workshops and support groups are arenas of authenticity, experience and insight. She believes that grief is a natural response to loss and that healing is a journey. She is a life long journaler and committed to helping others explore and heal. She has over 15 year’s personal experience and advanced training in dialogue journaling.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mistaking Sadness for Depression

Don’t mistake sadness for depression after the death of a child. Many of the symptoms are similar, but depression is a disease and requires treatment and supervision according to Dr. Robert Thompson, family practitioner, bereaved father, and author of Remembering the Death of a Child.

“That is an important distinction,” he said. “Sadness over the death of a loved one is not a disease. The sad person is usually sad about a particular event, in this case the death of a child. But sad people are also capable of feeling joy and empathy as well as sadness. The depressed person is very limited in their emotional responses. They feel so bad so much of the time that they really cannot relate to other people and experience any joy or pleasure in their life at all. That’s not true of sadness. Sadness stays with us, more or less intense, for our entire life. It’s not something we can run away from nor do we want to. Depression usually has a beginning and an end, hopefully. Those are the main differences.”

According to Dr. Gloria Horsley, professional therapist, one of the things about depression is that you don’t hear most bereaved people saying they want to kill themselves. They may say they wish they weren’t living or they wish they could join the person who died, but that is very different from the idea that they really want to kill themselves.

Ronald Knapp’s book Beyond Endurance documented this theory in a study that looked at people over a period of six months and one of the characteristics that all families who have suffered through the death of a child have was a general desire to follow the child. There were no suicides in his group.
There are some therapists who can mistake that and not realize it is not a suicidal thought. It is just a thought of wanted to rejoin the person, a natural parental instinct.

I remember thinking when Marcy died that I would gladly have traded places with her. I was almost 50 years old at the time and had lived a majority of my life, a good life, but thought, “Marcy has just begun to live and had so much more to do.” I never really contemplate suicide as an answer to my sadness. It never even crossed my mind.

Below are some signs of depression. The ones I have marked can be either sadness or depression, but understand that all of these listed can relate to depression only. I list them so that you will be careful and understand the difference between sadness and depression in your life and be able to deal with getting through this difficult part.

  • Difficulty falling asleep or remaining asleep at night (can be either)
  • Waking up early in the morning, feeling anxious and irritable
  • Marked changed in appetite, either toward overeating or loss of app├ętit; substantial weight changes (can be either)
  • Increased use of sleeping pills, other medications, alcohol or caffeine
  • Uncharacteristic short-temperedness, crying or agitation
  • Delay or neglect of vital physical needs (can be either)
  • Decreased resistance to illness (can be either)
  • Loss of energy or fatigue (can be either)
  • Subdued mood; expressionless face or flat tone of voice
  • Rough handling and other signs of impatience in giving care
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide.