In my work as a Doctor of Oriental medicine and an end-of-life care specialist, also known as a Death Doula, I have seen most if not all the emotions arise as one goes through the dying process. Family members, friends and caregivers go through these emotions as well. The most common emotional struggles as death draws near revolve around fear, grief, denial, and regret. There are others at times that show up, but those 4 are the “Biggies”. No one ever goes through them in a set order, but they arise randomly with or without stimulus or triggers. Over the years of helping people through this process, I have come to look for the gentlest, simplest, and most powerful approaches to helping families and caregivers through the end-of-life transition and beyond, and the emotions surrounding that. My favorite tools are Essential Oil Blends.
Dying happens on its own terms. I don’t think we need to manipulate that process, other than to make it as smooth as possible. Most of the people I work with are in Hospice care and that means no “heroic measures” are taken for the patient. Palliative care is the order of the day. Palliative care means keeping one as comfortable as possible. This is where Essential Oils have a wonderful impact. The family members and caregivers don’t get the benefit of palliative care and the Essential Oils are a way to positively affect them as well.
I have been using Essential Oils personally and professionally for over 50 years. As my interest and knowledge about their uses deepened, and my friends and clients aged, I focused my attention more on end-of-life care. Specifically, I have focused on how to help facilitate a more conscious and comfortable passing. To this end I have created 4 Essential Oil Blends to help caregivers, family and the dying have a gentler experience through the dying process. As caregivers and Doulas, we see the emotional roller coaster for family members and the dying and are right in the middle of that emotional storm. We may also need help so that we can be our most present and genuine self for those we serve. These Oil Blends help us as well as the family and client we serve. It is important to note that Essential Oils do have an impact on people physically, but these blends are not meant to treat disease or illness. They are used for mental, emotional, and spiritual support. These 4 Blends are: 1. Delight, 2. Spirit, 3. Transitions, and 4. Grief Relief. I have made these available in a set (a resource kit) so that each Blend is readily available as needed. Let’s look at how they are used in real life situations.
Delight Blend fosters a sense of emotional balance and helps us see the joy and happiness that is inherent in life. This joy comes through the heart and is ever present, even when we cannot consciously connect with it, Delight Blend reminds us that joy and happiness exist. I recommend using it when one is not overwhelmed with painful emotions. When we are deep into powerful and painful emotions, this Oil Blend may not be enough to pull us out of that state. Perhaps pulling one out of that state may not be appropriate anyway. Every situation has its own needs. What this Blend is best used for is to remind one over and over that underlying joy exists within and the more we can reinforce that, the easier it is to access when strong emotions overwhelm. There is a concept called “snacking on joy” that tells us that it is OK to experience joy even during sad or stressful times. Some people feel guilty and that it is wrong to feel moments of joy during these intense times. If we think about it, that is simply not true. In a sense, this Oil Blend creates a conscious pathway to deeper states of wellbeing so we can have a more conscious choice of which pathway we wish to take when times are hard and difficult. The stress response is a learned reaction and becomes habitual for most people. Delight illuminates an alternative path to that response and allows us to create new habits and new perspectives on life as it unfolds. I also use it when doing legacy work or when sharing funny or pleasant memories, to rekindle the joy that has been a part of our lives. I often use it when I need a little boost of happiness!
Spirit Blend has a deeply relaxing effect on most people. The Essential Oils in this blend are meant to help one have a deeper awareness of the Spiritual qualities that we all share. These qualities, among others, are Joy (Delight focuses especially on this quality), Wisdom, Benevolence and greater Perspective, Faith (Faith born of experience that all will work out as needed), and Justice (the sense of fairness and equality). Most people are so caught up in the day-to-day affairs of life that they are only vaguely aware, at best, of these “gifts of the Spirit” that we all have deep within us. This blend helps lift the Spirit, deepen contemplation, prayer, or meditation.
Transitions Blend helps us smooth the bumps that go along with change. Doulas are here to help us go through the bookends of life, the “Big Changes” of birth and death. Of course, there are many small and significant changes throughout life and Transitions blend helps with them all. In fact, every moment is a change, if nothing else, from the previous moment, and how we accept or react to changes determines our state of happiness. One of my favorite jokes about my own resistance to change, that I keep close at hand is “I welcome change, but not today!” Change is constant, and so are the deeper underlying gifts of the Sprit that I mentioned above. This blend can be used at any time during our Doula/caregiving work to help all transitions go more smoothly for the client, their families and ourselves. This is a Blend that can be diffused daily to help bring greater acceptance to change and can be applied directly as needed. Many of the oils in Transitions have been classically used to help transport the Spirit into “the beyond” at the time of death. Some of the Oils in Transitions Blend are for helping relieve fear as well.
The last Oil Blend in this kit is called Grief Relief Blend. Grief is a part of the human experience and comes to us from ancestral sources, shared human experiences (what Jung called the collective unconscious) as well as personal circumstances. Grief walks with all of us daily and like a vague form in the shadow, it remains out of sight much of the time. When trauma, loss and hardships come into the forefront of our lives and grief is right in front of us, it may feel overwhelming (in fact, it usually does). With grief, we can become constricted and tense, especially in our chest and breathing. Some of the Oils in Grief Relief Blend relax that constriction and opens a greater sense of space in our body/mind so we can more easily process grief. This blend can be used throughout our Doula and caregiver work to help prepare for more loss as well as keep us open to processing grief and changes along the way. It can be diffused quite regularly and has a citrusy and uplifting aroma.
More information on these Blends can be found by clicking on the individual pictures of the Blends on the main page. There you will find specific uses and ways to apply them for specific circumstances. As mentioned above, I am also offering a “kit” with all 4 blends, pre-diluted in Jojoba oil, in rollerball bottles, for easy and safe applications. The kit comes in a zippered purse/carry bag for travel ease.