Aromatherapy and Grieving

by Aromatic Studies


Especially dedicated to close friends who lost someone dear throughout the past year and to my Daddy, Anthony Balzan, who still lives in me and my children.

Grief, a single word:

A short word to describe an abyss of emotions.

A deep excruciating pain, deep in the pit of your stomach.

A void deep inside that nothing can seem to fill up.

A general sense of lethargy and apathy.

Going to sleep, hoping that when we wake up, this would have just been a really bad dream.

Yes, losing someone dear to us can conjure all these emotions and much, much more. Textbooks tell us that grieving is a process. What is sure about all this is that the grieving process is a very personal thing, and no one will go through the process in the same way. There is no time frame for grieving, and it won’t ever be over, in my opinion. Emotions may change, but it will never be over.

I lost my dad 18 years ago. I might be ok most days, but I might hear a song, or smell something, and I am suddenly transported to that awful day, and the feelings are raw, still very strong, and no number of years has or will ever change that.

The death of someone close to us imposes change.  Change in itself instills a kind of fear. Being imposed on us, the fear sometimes feels insurmountable.

I am deeply sorry. I do not have a magic wand to remove all this and bring things to the way they were before. And believe me, I have searched and searched for ways and means and shortcuts to numb the pain and fear. They do not exist.

But throughout the years, I have learned ways to deal with the situation and manage my pain and fear.

Here are some things that I have found helpful through this journey.

First couple of days – Shock and Denial 

You are still numb with shock, and nothing seems real. You feel as though you are on a still point, and the world is revolving around you, going about its usual stuff, buzzing with excitement when all you want to do is sleep, sleep, and sleep.

Do not expect too much of yourself. It is ok to feel anything you are feeling. Get rid of your pride and accept all the help that you are offered.

Try to take care of yourself as much as possible, or let somebody take care of you. That includes eating, not forgetting to take any usual medications that you have to take daily, keeping yourself hydrated, and, if possible, having an aromatherapy bath using the following blend:

In a teaspoon vegetable oil add:

    • 3 drops sandalwood
    • 2 drops Melissa
    • 2 drops Frankincense

Add to your bath water. Disperse well before entering.

You can also add these oils to an aromatherapy diffuser.

For any of you who are visiting friends who have just lost a loved one, a huge hug is a must. It’s something that they will never forget. Sometimes, the less said, the better. We may have all the good intentions in the world, but your friend or relative is very fragile at the moment, so some words might do more harm than good.

2nd Phase – Guilt and Anger

When the shock and numbness go away, the pain sometimes feels unbearable, and we may sometimes also start to feel guilty about something related to the person we lost.

I used to feel guilty that I had not taken a First Aid course, so I could not administer proper CPR to my Dad. I would also feel guilty that I did not say I love you often enough.

I would also feel guilty and selfish that one of the first things that I thought about when I realized that Daddy was no more was think about what would happen to our family structure that included my mum, 15-year-old me and my nine-year-old sister.

Would Mum manage to take care of us on her own? would we have to sell the house? would the income my mum had be enough to support all of us?

I would also feel very angry at times with Dad for giving up on us and leaving us so soon.

Everything you are feeling is ok. I apologize for repeating this. I know I needed this reassurance loads of times.

Talk about what you are feeling. If you do not feel comfortable to talk to other family members or friends seek help. 

One thing that really helped me during this stage was writing down a journal of what I was feeling. I could write anything and I really and truly poured my heart down in the book. It took me quite a long time to write, and it was painful but necessary. I kept it for a long time in my bedside drawer until I felt ready to let it go.

When I was ready, I took it out, went out to the garden, and burnt it. It was hugely therapeutic.

An essential oil blend that can help during this stage is:

    • 3 drops lavender
    • 2 drops chamomile roman
    • 2 drops jasmine

Can be used in a bath, in a diffuser or in a personal aromatherapy inhaler.

3rd Phase – Depression

When the anger seems to subside, a feeling of apathy, depression, and helplessness emerges. This was the most difficult time for me. By now, I had realized that my Papi would not be coming back. I realized that I had to start living life without him, and I did not like the picture. But rebelling was of no use, so depression seeped in.

I had to seek professional help at this stage, and my physiologist helped me put things in perspective and also helped me deal with these overwhelming feelings. Never be ashamed to ask for help. You are not weak when you seek help. It takes a strong individual to accept that he needs help.

Try to ensure that you are taking care of your physical health, take stock of your nutrition, and try to exercise more, preferably outside. Long walks used to be part of my daily routine, and they really helped.

Wear bright colored clothes were possible. I tended to wear black clothes, which reflected my mood and state of mind. This was actually the first tip my psychologist gave me and although it may seem trivial it really makes a difference.

Pamper yourself once in a while. It’s ok, you deserve it.

An essential oil blend that can help during this stage is:

    • 3 drops Mandarin essential oil
    • 2 drops Lavender essential oil
    • 2 drops clary sage essential oil

Can be used in a bath, in a diffuser or in a personal aromatherapy inhaler.

4th Phase- Acceptance

This is the stage I had been striving for and hoping to reach all along. It might come after a couple of months; it might take years. After 18 years, I sometimes feel that I have not reached this stage at all.

I try to remember all that I have been through and what helped me overcome certain thoughts and feelings, how I dealt with it all throughout the years and apply them as needed.

Day by Day

Night by night

An essential oil blend that can help during this stage is:

    • 3 drops Lavender essential oil
    • 2 drops Marjoram essential oil
    • 2 drops Jatamansi/Spikenard essential oil

Can be used in a bath, in a diffuser or a personal aromatherapy inhaler.

Each day is different; I am still learning, and I will continue to learn till the day I die. The most precious lesson I have learned throughout this process is that you can never say I love You often enough to your loved ones. Tomorrow might be too late.

Written by: Marika Fleri

Aroma Treasures

Interested in learning more about Essential Oils and Grief? Join Marika and her online course “Grief and Aromatics here!