Herbs for Grief Rose Medicine

Healing In Times Of Great Change: Grief, Loss & 5 Herbs to Tend to a Grieving Soul

cyclical living herbal remedies herbalism Jan 30, 2024

Grief is an emotion that is as vast and unpredictable as the human experience itself.

The wild and wonderful experience of being a human being is deep. It is tragic, beautiful, creative, heartbreaking, mysterious, and absolutely everything in between. In the garden of both our collective and individual emotions, we find ourselves intricately connected through the fertile soil of grief.

Through the current lens of our disheartening global and political landscapes, fueled by greed, power, war, and the broken connection to our natural rhythm and cycles, feelings of mourning and grief stand as a delicate flower.

The flower of grief demands that we return to our fertile inner landscape. The quiet call of grief asks us to find our heart, the heart of our humanity, and relearn how to listen.

Modern society has given us many reasons to grieve, but the act of grieving and the honoring of the process that grief requires has been metaphorically swept under the rug. As we navigate the complex labyrinth of grief, and how sorrow transforms our global landscape, we turn to our herbal medicinals and the wisdom of our connection to the natural world to whisper solace to our grieving souls.

Understanding the Symphony of Grief:

Grief is defined as: “an instance or cause of intense sorrow”. It is a universal experience that transcends cultural and geographical boundaries. Grief is an emotional response to loss, be it the passing of a loved one, the end of a relationship, or the departure of a cherished phase of life.

In our modern world, grief is often met with hurried steps, a quickened pace to move beyond the ache. Yet, indigenous cultures have long understood grief as a dance to be honored and embraced, a natural response to life's lessons, loss, trauma and mourning.

The Modern Makings of Grief:

In today's fast-paced world, grief is often addressed with clinical precision, emphasizing quick resolutions through therapy sessions, support groups, and self-help resources. These modern approaches, while valuable for many, represent just one way of handling grief. The efficiency-driven mindset prevalent in society may inadvertently overshadow the uniqueness and complexity of individual grief experiences. It is crucial to reimagine our relationship with grief to allow space for diverse and organic ways of navigating the intricacies of this emotion.

Indigenous Makings of Grief:

In different corners of the world, diverse cultures have maintained their practices of remembrance and reverence to the inevitability of loss. In Mexico, the vibrant hues of the Día de los Muertos paint a canvas of joy and spirituality as families come together to honor departed loved ones. The festival, held annually from October 31st to November 2nd, transforms grief into a celebration of life adorned with marigolds, photographs, and the cherished belongings of the departed.

In the Southwestern United States, the Navajo people perform the "Burning the Hózhó". When someone passes away, the Navajo community gathers to perform ritual that involves burning ceremonial items, chanting, prayers, and symbolic actions facilitating a graceful transition to the afterlife.

These ceremonies, diverse yet united in their embrace of grief, echo the human quest to navigate the delicate dance between life and death with grace and reverence. It hosts a profound connection between nature, community, and the spiritual world and gives us insight on how the modern world can learn to embrace grief.

Energetics of Grief:

Grief weaves through the emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual dimensions of our human experience. This profound emotion is more than a psychological state; it creates waves that ripple with the potential to change us to our core.

Our Herbalism Program explores the importance of learning how to care for the threads of your well-being so that when grief arises, you are well-equipped to ride the waves with grace and compassion.

Herbal educator Emily Ruff points out that “stress, grief, and trauma impact our biochemistry & physiology.” While these emotional reactions are designed to keep us safe, we have ultimately forgotten how to provide social support in order to truly process and integrate.

"If grief can be a doorway to love, then let us all weep for the world we are breaking apart so we can love it back to wholeness again."

— Robin Wall Kimmerer

Grief often brings about a range of intense emotions, including sadness, anger, guilt, confusion, and even numbness. The cognitive aspects of grief may involve difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, and a sense of disorientation. Individuals may find themselves grappling with existential questions about life, death, and the meaning of existence.

The grieving process is not linear; it involves a series of stages, including denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, as proposed by the Kübler-Ross model. However, it's important to note that not everyone experiences these stages in the same way or order, and some may revisit certain stages multiple times.

Mental health may be significantly impacted during grief, with some individuals experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety. The grief journey can be complex and challenging, requiring time and support to navigate the emotional landscape.

From a spiritual perspective, grief initiates a profound inquiry into existence and interconnectedness, setting the stage for a transformative journey. It goes beyond the individual, prompting collective introspection. Grief encourages us to cultivate compassion, acknowledge the entirety of our shared reality, and explore how we can serve ourselves, one another, and the intricate web of life. In this way, grief becomes a catalyst for spiritual growth and a call to collectively honor the interconnected nature of our existence.

, with its cyclical patterns of growth, decay, and rebirth, serves as a powerful teacher in understanding the transformative nature of grief. Plants, with their resilience and adaptability, symbolize the potential for growth even in the aftermath of loss. Connecting with nature and herbal allies can offer solace and inspiration, reminding us of the cyclical and transformative nature of life.

Here are our top 5 herbal allies to help us tend to grief and our grieving process:

  1. Bobinsana (Calliandra angustifolia)
  2. Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)
  3. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
  4. Rose (Rosa spp.)
  5. Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata)

1. Bobinsana (Calliandra angustifolia)
  • Herbal Energetics: Cooling, slightly bitter
  • Use in Grief: In traditional medicine, it is believed to not only ease the pain of loss but also open channels of spiritual insight. Bobinsana gently cradles the grieving soul, helping it navigate the intricate emotions, providing solace, and fostering a deep connection to the spiritual realm.
  • Preparation: Typically prepared as a tincture or flower essence. Traditional methods involve brewing a tea with the leaves and stems.
  • Harvest/Origins: Native to the Amazon rainforest. Ethical wildcrafting practices are encouraged to protect its natural habitat.

2. Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.)
  • Herbal Energetics: Mildly warming, slightly astringent
  • Use in Grief: Hawthorn gently encourages the heart to mend its broken pieces. It aids in the circulation of both blood and emotions, fostering a sense of renewal.
  • Preparation: Tinctures or infusions made from the flowers, leaves, or berries. If you choose to use the berries, be sure to coarsely grind them in your mortar and pestle before use
  • Harvest/Origins: Various Crataegus species are found in Europe, Asia, and North America. Ethical harvesting practices are always recommended to ensure a thriving population.

3. Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
  • Herbal Energetics: Cooling, aromatic
  • Use in Grief: Lemon Balm is renowned for its calming effects on the nervous system. With its lemon-scented leaves, she brings a touch of sunshine to the grieving spirit. It gently lifts the weight of sorrow, infusing the heart with a sense of hope, creating space for joy to coexist with grief.
  • Preparation: Tea or tincture made from the leaves. Lemon Balm is also a delightful addition to culinary dishes and beverages.
  • Harvest/Origins: Native to the eastern Mediterranean region, Lemon Balm is cultivated in many parts of the world. Harvest the leaves before flowering for optimal flavor and potency.

4. Rose (Rosa spp.)
  • Herbal Energetics: Cooling, astringent
  • Use in Grief: Rose is associated with love and compassion. It encourages the expression of buried emotions, allowing tears to fall like dewdrops that nurture the soil of healing. Rose, in its essence, invites the grieving soul to find beauty amidst the pain.
  • Preparation: Rose petals can be used in teas, tinctures, infused honey, or as an essential oil for aromatherapy.
  • Harvest/Origins: Roses are widely cultivated around the world. Harvest roses in the morning when the oils are most concentrated. Ensure ethical sourcing to support regenerative practices.

5. Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata)
  • Herbal Energetics: Cooling, bitter
  • Use in Grief: Blue Vervain is known for its nervine properties, helping to calm the nervous system and reduce tension. It can be supportive in times of distress or grief.
  • Preparation: Tinctures or teas made from the aerial parts of the plant.
  • Harvest/Origins: Native to North America, Blue Vervain can be found in wet meadows and along stream banks. Harvest the aerial parts when the plant is in full bloom for optimal potency. Always practice ethical harvesting to preserve natural habitats.

Reimagining Grief: Holding Grief & Gratitude

There is a call to reclaim spaces of mourning, where grief is not hurried or discarded but allowed to unfold at its own pace. With the incredible healing powers of our generous herbal medicinals and indigenous practices to guide the way. We stand a chance to rearrange grief and acknowledge it as an integral part of the human experience with the vast potential for growth, deeper connection, and even gratitude.

The metaphorical act of carrying grief in one hand and gratitude in the other reflects the nuanced balancing act that characterizes the mature individual's journey through loss. As we learn to soften through the process of grief, compassion becomes not only possible but a natural outgrowth of the capacity to hold sorrow.

“The work of the mature person is to carry grief in one hand and gratitude in the other and to be stretched large by them...Grief keeps the heart fluid and soft, which helps make compassion possible.

— Francis Ward Weller

Resources for Grief:

Written by: Allison Graham

Allison is a professional copywriter & brings an integrated expression of mind, body, and spirit to Ecoversity. As an entrepreneur with a profound connection to the natural world, she has founded the Science Meets Spirit Podcast and a line of herbal medicinals to honor her path as a budding herbalist. Her multifaceted approach to life extends through offering leadership experiences in the form of retreats and 1-on-1 mentorship sessions. She aims to inspire others with her commitment to holistic wellness and her connection to the cyclical wisdom of our human experience.


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