Often hard to talk about, and soaked with juicy intangible questions about the point of our very existance, death and grief are as inevitable as the waves in the ocean. Every human, in every culture, has this awareness: resulting in an abundance of different traditions and ceremonies that support (and in some cases deny) the grieving process, especially when loosing a loved one. Some choose to sing their beloveds soul to the heavens, some choosing to read mantras over and over again to guide their departed into the next phase of being. And, some choosing a more structured approach like the 'wake' ritual in Ireland, which allows us to join with our friends and relatives and tell stories of our departed; to laugh with them, to cry, to share our pain and our love for the person we’ve lost.
Grief is also not simply caused just by the experience of loosing a loved one. Life throws us many a curve ball, and grief can come about at any turn. The severe dissapointment of failing at an achievement, the grief that comes with facing your own mortality or even the grief that comes with witnessing the apathy surrounding climate change and the greatest mass extinction of species the human race has ever seen... Grief comes in a variety of forms, through many different expressions for many different reasons.
Because we at The Hopsack are priviledged enough to be able to witness many a person in this vulnerable state, we wanted to share some advice that may be useful if you, or if someone you know is suffering and could do with an extra lifeline to hold on to. Although, like everything in life, we are all different - what works for one of us does not always suit the next.
It is necessary when dealing with grief to look at the entire person. Focussing on one element alone, rather than the whole, won’t harvest the same benefits. For example, it is as important to eat well and nourish the body, as it is to protect the heart or calm the mind. The whole self needs attention and those with a predisposition to loneliness or anxiety should be afforded extra care.
You need no other flower remedy, as this is a combination of six essences to reduce panic and shock and to restore calm. It is good to keep a bottle in your pocket or bag for when it’s most needed.
Hawthorn - When the heart (your seat of joy and sadness) is fragile, this native Irish bush is your saviour. It helps to shed negative emotions, whilst physically supporting the heart. It is a nervine, an antioxidant, it is antispasmodic and it even has vasodilation properties.
It is one of the oldest known herbs used as medicine and for herbalist Erica Murray, if she was to work with only two herbs forever more, this charming herb and nettle would be her choices.
Motherwort - As the name suggests, this herb offers nurturing support - the comfort of a mother’s embrace. Like Hawthorn, it helps to shed negative emotions, whilst physically calming heart palpitations and lowering blood pressure. While some people choose to run away from the torment of grief, motherwort helps us to face up to the pain and uncover emotions that lay beneath. It protects us and enables a healthier grieving process.
Mullein - The lungs hold grief, while the throat holds fear. Mullein is a lung strengthening herb and an ancient natural remedy for ailments of the throat.
Nettle - This is an extremely nutritious herb, packed with silica, iron and other minerals. During times of loss, we can be prone to under or over eating. It is important to stay nourished in order to keep up your strength and protect your immune system.
Rose - This soothing oil can be a huge comfort when experiencing loss. Although it is not recommended during the early stages of grief because it’s extremely potent. Rose can sooth grief and shock, it releases traumatic energy and is a source for much needed self-love.
We often advise customers to drink ‘Love Tea’ by Pukka as it includes rose petals in its list of ingredients.
Some suggest holding on to a piece of rose quartz, the heart healer (perhaps during the funeral) or placing at your bedside for spiritual nourishment and to fill your heart with love. It helps deal with forgiveness too - a normal part of the grieving process.
Lavender - This is an obvious one for helping with sleep issues and for soothing the mind. Lavender also helps with forgiveness and healing, so this beautiful and gentle essential oil is a thoughtful gift for someone who is grieving (including yourself).
Ignatia - This is an effective remedy for loss, so much so that farmers have been known to give to calves to support weaning. It is also common for pet owners who have just lost their beloved best friend to use this to underpin their grieving process.
Holy basil - An adaptogen that supports the adrenals, promotes sleep, supports a strong immune system and helps to manage both our emotions and stress levels. This remedy also helps to alleviate the mood and increase clarity when recovering from loss.
Passiflora - A beautiful flower which, when used as a supplement, helps to reduce anxiety. Its nurturing and soothing effects promote tranquility and an ease of spirit and mind.
Meditate: This is definitely not one for everyone, but if you haven’t tried it yet, now may be the time. Join a class, or if you are not ready yet, then just download some beautiful meditations on YouTube.
Breath work: Use your breath to help calm your body and mind - You can book in to ‘The Healing Power of the Breath’ with John McLoughlin, to learn how to use the breath and discover how it can help you to cope with loss.
Nature: When feeling in a negative mindset, being in nature (especially at this time of year!) brings comfort as well as a spiritual lift.
Connect with people: Don’t let yourself fall into a hole, however tempting that may be. Surrounding yourself with your friends or family can be a great help. It may be really good for your soul to join a volunteer group… the more connected we are, the less lonely we feel :)
Carry a book: This has been received especially well - ‘On Grief and Grieving’ by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross & David Kessler.
‘The five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance - are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief.’ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
He is not lost our dearest love
He is not lost our dearest love,
Nor has he travelled far,
Just stepped inside home's
And left the door ajar.
This year in Dublin we not only celebrate Halloween but also the mexican festival of ‘Dia de los Muertos’ or also known as ‘The Day of the Dead’. Both events celebrate the same theme - our departed ancestors and departed loved ones. ‘Dia de los Muertos’ celebrates the lives of those who have passed and originally (before trick or treating and candied apples) Halloween was an appreciation of the afterlife.
Please consult your doctor before taking supplements or changing your diet, especially if you are taking any medications or have a medical condition. Some supplements and medications can interact with lethal results.