Through the valley and the shadow of death

Sometime around September things started to slip. I slowly forgot to do the things that keep me sane. I started consuming large amounts of cheese. I stopped reading Grace Jones’s memoirs to read online gossip. My physical yoga practice shifted to meditation and I stopped making my little shatavri smoothies. It’s now November. I can’t make a clear business decision to save my life.  I’ve developed irregular physical pangs and stopped sleeping through the night.

For me this is what grief looks like. I go from a well oiled self-care machine to a surly mucus filled mother who doesn’t shower and hates talking in the morning. I want to sit here and say it’s important to know what your little signs that you are slipping into darkness, so you can stop. But sometimes, I wonder if stopping is really necessary.

Today, I welcome the darkness. During my sons naps and morning mediations, I welcome all the tears I haven’t cried and all the I love you’s I never got to say. I also find space to hear all my disappointments and frustrations why I feel this bottomless pit of longing I can’t seem to crawl out of.

Rather than trying to nourish or sweeten my way out of my pain, I think I will feel it. I know once I feel it, I can receive what it has for me and move on. I am learning that no matter how long I sit in child’s pose, no matter how much tincture or rescue remedy I consume, shit just hurts. It will continue to hurt until it doesn’t hurt anymore. That’s just life. We go through tough times. We only stay in the tough time when we deny our own suffering. Trying to stave off the pain of grief doesn’t help at all.

The only thing that seems to help is finding compassion to be where and how I am; knowing that in this moment I am doing my best.  My best is all I could ever ask of myself.

 

Mourning through Motherhood

Here is a short list of the herbs that have helped me mourn my father while being Mommy. Please note that I didn’t work with all these herbs at once. I find that some plants helped for different parts of the process. However they all have and continue to support me as I grieve and raise my little one. Also, I breastfed while working with all these plants and had no problems. If you are very concerned, please contact your doctor, midwife or lactation consultant.

Homeopathic Remedies

Homeopathic Arnica: Homeopathic Arnica was great for when the death was fresh. It kept me grounded and present so I could actually remember to grieve. Arnica didn’t take the pain away for me. It reminded me that I had just gone through something very painful and that I should take precious care of myself.

Homeopathic Ignatius Amara: Ignatius Amara kept (and still keeps) me from being emotionally constipated. When I wouldn’t let myself cry or be sad, Ignatius Amara would hold space for me to cry or be sad as much as I needed to. It helped me to keep flowing  and helped me to feel without judgment or overwhelm.

How the homeopathic remedies worked with me: For the first 3 months or so, I would take either Arnica or Ignatius Amara (sometimes both) every 4 – 6 hours. I needed all the help I could get at the time.  After three months, I backed off a bit. Now, when I recognize that I am having a rough time, I take some Ignatius Amara. I love Arnica, but for me Ignatius Amara is more gentle.

Tinctures

Elderflower Tincture: I love Elderflower. Elderflower will help you channel your energy in the most beneficial direction. So instead of spiraling into the darkness of what had happened, Elderflower helped me keep one foot in front of the other; moving in a positive direction. Note: This does not mean I had an easy time. It means that in the midst of sorrow, I had a light pulling me forward. There was something that had confidence in my ability to make it through and was rooting for me. For me, this is what I needed most.

Rose Tincture: Rose Tincture helps remind me how my I love my father. No, the man was not perfect, but thanks to Rose’s help I can remember and celebrate what I love most about him. Rose’s love also helped me say all I needed to say to him before he passed, so neither of us needed to carry that.

Peach Tincture: Peach has softened any harsh left over feelings I held towards my Father. It’s allowed my heart to expand and feel compassion for things he did that hurt me. Peach has also been instrumental in keeping my anxiety from running wild. My anger and anxiety have vastly increased as part of the grieving process, Peach keeps things in check for me. (Sweet Violet is another tincture that’s great for anger and anxiety.)

Reishi Tincture: Together with Peach, Reishi has helped to heal old scars on my heart. It’s increased my empathy for Dad and helps me feel like he’s not too far away. Reishi is perfect for deep heart work, and I would play with it more, but it upsets my bowels if I take it for more than a month at a time.

How the tinctures worked with me: I love some tinctures. They are easy to work with. I would take a dropper full in my mouth every morning. Teas I would forget or get stressed out over. Tincture I would rarely forget. I find that I forget, it’s time to play with another tincture. They usually call to me in advance , so if I am being on top of things, I already have what’s needed.

Essential Oils

Frankincense Essential Oil: I started playing with Frankincense oil right before my father died. It has a soothing, calming presence that helped to ground me. Frankincense oil is a great go-to for working through Daddy issues.

Myrrh Essential Oil: Mourning my Father’s death, inflamed grievances I have with my Mother. Myrrh helped keep me steady, in integrity and grounded as I dealt with my Mother. Myrrh is great for working through Mommy issues.

Geranium Essential Oil: Geranium’s big bright spirit brought youthful joy and peace. It helped me to feel resilient and strong. She also has a way of helping you work through things in a simple, easy and almost playful way. Geranium is fun and uplifting, yet protective.

Bergamot Essential Oil: Bergamot kept me from descending into the abyss. He kept me light and fired up. There would be no way that I couldn’t find light to see or understand if he was around. If you are clinging to the edge and want something to bring you light and joy, Bergamot on your hands, belly or the bottoms of your feet can help.

How the Oils worked with me: The Essential oils wanted different things from me. Sometimes, they wished to be put into a diffuser and kept near all day. This was perfect for winter. Now a days, the usually like to be put on my skin in specific places. Bergamot loves my belly and the top of my head. Geranium wants to be on my heart, in the front and on the back. Frankincense and Myrrh go in various places on various days.

Here’s my list 🙂 There are plenty of other Herbal Allies that will support you through grief, but these are the ones I know 🙂 I hope this list has helped you in some way.

Death’s gift

As I  stumble through grief, I constantly return to a good friend’s advice that death offers a gift. When she first said it, I wanted to sock her. What kind of gift or blessing comes from death? I wouldn’t call my tears, often misguided anger or desire to eat my way out of sadness a blessing to anyone. In fact, I’d call all that a curse.

Often I can’t see the gift because I feel sad, tired, angry or just feel like I should be beyond the stabby part of grieving. However, the gift of my Father’s death is always right there, offering me little goodies when I am not looking. Grief continues to teach me many useful and different things.

Recently, I’ve learned to allow and accept difficult emotions in the midst of chaos. I used to stifle anything that wasn’t pink and fuzzy because that’s who I always imagined myself to be. Now when I feel the darkness of motherhood (heh heh), frustration at another driver, or a general sense of malaise, I don’t stifle that shit. I let it flow. Now that doesn’t mean I go curse anyone or anything out. It means I take a second to acknowledge whatever has popped up, see what it needs from me and move on from there.

Now, I have a 17 month old with me most of the time, so please don’t think I lounge around pondering. But what I do do, is tell Lil Boo what’s up and engage in activities that keep him safe and entertained, but allow me a bit of space. So instead of going to an super intense playground with a ton of parents who will want to talk my ear off, we’ll go to the gardens, or for a walk in a safe place where he can wonder off a bit, but still be safe.

Believe or not, my father’s death has also conferred a sense of freedom for me. I mean,  we are all free, blah blah blah. But you aren’t free if you don’t believe it or feel like it. When my father passed the obligation to stay as a little girl passed with him. I am no longer bound to home in the same way I was as a little girl. I can engage my Mother, Brothers and everyone else in a different way than before because I am no longer anyone’s little girl. Now that my Father is gone, I am a woman; which is odd to say because I feel as old as the hills. But, there it is. I’ve said it. I am finally a woman.

Now whatever comes from grief to you will be different. I am still unpacking what my Father’s death means to me. Knowing him there is much more to come in time. I’ll continue to look forward to what other gifts come in time.

Until next time, Take Precious Care of yourself.