“Good grief!” we say – but there’s nothing funny or good about grief.
It’s common to feel numbness and chest pain when we grieve. Our heart rate increases and hydrochloric acid production and adrenaline are also increased. In Eastern medicine, the lungs and large intestines are associated with grief, and being grief-stricken for long periods of time can lead to weakened immunity. However, a good cry can be a great release, so please don’t fight the tears. Crying helps to provide the emotional release that lowers muscular tension and blood pressure. The endorphins released in tears help relief pain. Suppressing tears is detrimental to health, making us more vulnerable to disease.
A vitamin B complex supplement is great during emotional stress, as our stores of vitamin B are quickly diminished during this time. Herbs, homeopathics, essential oils, and flower essences can provide support during this time as well. Herbs that provide comfort during times of grief are passionflower, motherwort, and lemon balm. St John’s Wort is helpful when your stressed or worn out from sobbing. In Chinese medicine, gardenia is know as “the happiness herb”. All of these can be used in tea, tincture of in capsule form.
A great homeopathic remedy for grief is Ignatia. It’s used for hysteria, loss, grief, disappointment in love, or the death of a loved one. It’s also of great benefit for people who strongly identify with the person they have lost and feel they can’t exist without them. Essential oils can stimulate changes in brain chemistry by opening different neural pathways. The addition of essential oils to a bath can be an effective way of letting the tears flow. Helpful oils include jasmine, neroli, orange, rose, lavender, lemon balm, and hyssop. As you let the water out, visualise your sadness going down the drain.
Flower essences have subtle transformative properties for emotional healing. Star of Bethlehem is helpful for physical shock and trauma, or for coping with the death of a pet or loved one. Bleeding heart is good for the grief that is related to the loss of love or separation, and helps to foster detachment and peace. Rest is an important healer of grief. So too is time. Be kind to yourself.
Toni Green is a Launceston-based naturopath, herbalist and health writer. It is her passion to pass on this knowledge of natural therapies to others so that they might live a stress-free life with health and vitality.