How aromatherapy can help you cope with grief and loss

Lavender in a jug

Comforting fragrances can help us to recall positive memories and help us through difficult times. Sarah Gane speaks to an aromatherapist about how our senses can ease grief and loss.

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While particular scents are known for their benefits in difficult situations, it’s important to seek the advice of a professional to ensure it’s tailored for you.

“Scents affect us all on an individual level… While [they] can assist someone dealing with grief and loss, there is no magic wand or formula,” explains complementary therapist and aromatherapist, Rosie Frost.

“Scents that are enjoyed may help, some can give temporary relief. Sometimes an article of clothing that still has the scent of a deceased loved one can bring some comfort or their favourite perfume or aftershave, equally the scent could bring too much distress at a particularly inconvenient time and place.

“Some aromatherapy oils are considered suitable due to their properties, but [these] will vary with each individual’s life and loss experiences, grief process, mood or even time of day. That is why when visiting an aromatherapist, a detailed personal medical history record is taken, which should include scent preferences, including any dislikes.”

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Aromatherapy jars

Once you or an aromatherapist has picked your oils, there are a few different ways you can use them at home. Aroma nasal inhaler blanks could be customised with your preferred oil: simply pop a few drops onto the cotton swab and seal back up. Handy if you’re out and about too.

If you’re relaxing at home then the more conventional wax melt warmers can hold essential oil wax or drops of the standalone oil.

For a more atmospheric approach, aroma diffusers are a great flame-free way of surrounding yourself with scent. They work by using ultrasonic waves to vaporise water and the essential oil in the tank to produce a cool, dry, fragrant mist. Depending on which brand you buy, some can even act as lamps too. Check out Muji, Neal’s Yard and John Lewis for more.

While it is vital to give yourself plenty of time for nurturing and self-care, it’s also important to confide in close friends or family when you feel ready to, as Rosie suggests: “Pain and loss brings powerful feelings that can be overwhelming. I would not recommend anything other than to find suitable support if struggling and feeling alone.”

Issue 8 of Project Calm magazine, which takes a deeper look at scent, memory and natural fragrance, is out now.

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Photo by Eddie Garcia and  Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash