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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Bach Flowers for Experiencing Loss

A lot of people I know have been going through a grieving process lately.  I think this may be true world-wide as we experience some pretty big universal shifts.

Sometimes grieving is about losing a loved one and that means both people and pets in my opinion. Sometimes it's about grieving the loss of a job, a situation, moving away from a cherished home, a way of life, a season. Sometimes we grieve and celebrate at the same time. As schools and universities start to open their doors again, and the summer season comes to a close, many people experience a sense of loss.  We just don't always recognize or acknowledge that fact. When children go to school for the first time, or move off to university or jobs, life changes in a pretty big way. Not just for parents, for the children as well.  And even while we may celebrate the moving on and moving forward, we might also be wise to consider the sense of loss we are experiencing as well.

There is a saying that "behind every closed door a window opens".  My scientific mind struggles with that because I don't know why that would really be true given the laws of physics and air exchange, but my creative mind likes the picture that presents. My integrated brain figures perhaps you should gently close the door, put up the closed sign, and then very ceremoniously open a window, breathe the fresh air, and enjoy a new view of the world. But if you don't fully close the door first and put up the sign, when you open the window the door may slam shut and that may even cause the glass to break. Not good!

In order to gently close the door and put up the sign, I think you have to look within and feel the loss. That doesn't mean there has to be tears or great angst, although that's okay too if that's how you feel. It's more about allowing yourself to feel, instead of telling yourself you shouldn't feel sad, have to get over it, celebrate, be happy, or the famous "move on". And whatever causes you to grieve is cause enough to grieve. Everyone seems to think it's okay to grieve a person, but not everyone agrees with the same degree of grief for a pet., a job a changing situation. I disagree. There is no "fixed amount" on your love or your loss. It's also not about the "replacement value". In my opinion, you don't get over the loss of one thing by replacing it with something else. And loss isn't a relative concept. When you're grieving, you're grieving, and I don't know anyone that truly felt better because "it could have been worse".

So once you've really thought about the loss and how you feel and allowed yourself to grieve, you gently pull the door shut on that part of your life and put up the closed sign. Then, when you're ready and your eyes have adjusted to the light, you move over to the window. Sometimes windows are sticky and hard to open. If that's the case, there might be some Bach Flowers to help! (you knew I would through them in there somewhere!)

One could easily argue that each and every one of the 38 Bach Flower essences applies to the process of experiencing loss or grieving a loved one. It depends totally on how you are feeling, what you are missing, and how you are personally reacting. We don't all react the same or feel the same, and we should remember that when talking, or better yet, listening,  to someone in pain. But, a reasonable place to start might include: Star of Bethlehem, Agrimony, White Chestnut, Red Chestnut, Chicory, Sweet Chestnut, Gentian, Larch, Willow and Water Violet.

Star of Bethlehem is the typical remedy to consider for the loss of a loved one or something you greatly value. It helps to balance the shock of the loss. And no matter how much an event is anticipated, it still often comes as a bit of a shock when it actually occurs. This remedy helps with the transformation process associated with loss

Agrimony helps if you're "faking it" through your changing situation. If you find yourself making jokes to ease the tension, putting on a mask of happiness when you feel like crying- this is the remedy for you. Sometimes you need to look pretty deep to see, if in fact, you're covering up in an effort to convince yourself and others that you're "well adjusted". Taking Agrimony won't reduce you to a puddle of tears, but it might help you put your problems and feelings in perspective so you can deal with them rather than cover them up.

White Chestnut is helpful if your loss is keeping you up at night with repetitive thoughts going around and around in your head. If you just can't break through the thoughts to let your mind relax, consider White Chestnut. It may be helpful in combination with some of the others.

Red Chestnut may be particularly helpful if your loss involves changes for other people as well.  For the parent that can't stop worrying if their child is okay in a new situation- this is the remedy of choice. If you've been secretly decorating your child's university dorm room, or thinking about more school supplies to ease the pain for your child, or worrying how others will adapt to your changing job status- this may be the remedy for you!

Chicory is the remedy if you really aren't able to let go and feel quite possessive about things.  This may be very hard to self-diagnose. If you find yourself clinging to the door jam this is for you. If you are holding on desperately to a way of life that is dissolving around you- chicory will help you let go and let be. If  you hear friends repeatedly telling you to, "let it go" you might want to think about Chicory.

Sweet Chestnut is recommended for deep despair and is another one of the 'go to" remedies for bereavement. It may be helpful in combination with or as a follow up to Star of Bethelehem. If you are really feeling destroyed by your grief, Sweet Chestnut can help you face the changes even though the external circumstances may remain the same.

Gentian is indicated for a general sense of pessimism and depression that often follows the grieving process.  If you feel depressed, discouraged, and easily disheartened by small setbacks, Gentian may be indicated for you. Gentian can help you find the balance to realize difficulties will come to an end, and although changed by the experience, you will find happiness again.

Larch is indicated when your self-esteem has taken a bit of a blow due to your loss.  If you are grieving the loss of a job for instance, or entering the job market for the first time, or returning from an absence, Larch can help prepare you. If you wanting to change your loss into a new venture, a dream you've always wanted to pursue, and are afraid to try because of the possibility of failing- consider Larch.

Willow is indicated if the loss you are experiencing has you feeling like a victim. If you think only, and all, bad things happen to you- reach for the Bach Flower Willow.  This is another remedy that may be hard to self-diagnose. If you find yourself rather drawn to negative situations, conversations and friends, Willow may be the remedy to help you break out of the negative pull.

Finally, Water Violet may be helpful if you just want to pull the covers over your head and hide out until the world looks different.  If you find yourself avoiding people, situations and conversations or are considering moving to a cave in the mountains- try Water Violet before you seal yourself in.

The world is changing, of that I am sure. Part of any change involves the loss of things that we hold near and dear to our heart. Find what you are grieving, honor it and let go as you move towards the window.

1 comment:

  1. This is a beautiful post Heather, I agree that there are many things we can grieve and they are all valid.