Aromatherapy has a way of supporting the mind, body and soul like nothing else on Earth. It is not a wonder it would earn its place in the dying process. When the soul is ready to let go of the human form, the process can be painful to all involved.
Inhaling aromas from pure essential oils has a direct impact on the limbic system in our brain, which is connected to our emotions, memories and perceptions as well as many other biochemical processes in the body. By having essential oils and a diffuser available in Hospice settings, the patient and family are supported in a gentle and pleasant way. It can truly make a difference in their experience during such a difficult time. Here are 5 ways aromatherapy can ease the way, bridging us from one phase to the next.
- Emotional Health: Whether it is anxiety, depression, fear, grief, or other unpleasant emotions that must be felt, the relaxing and uplifting properties of essential oils are a gentle and effective way to soften these moments and help us process through them in a healthy way. Diffusing an essential oil or blend can bring a sense of peace the room, calming family and patient alike. (Suggestions: Lavender, Wild Orange, Mandarin, Roman Chamomile, Rose Otto, Ylang-ylang, Happy, Peace, Sunshine and Tranquility)
- Pain Relief: The analgesic properties in essential oils are well documented. Anti-inflammatory, warming, relaxing and cooling properties ease headaches, aches, pains, arthritis and more. The oils can be applied topically (diluted) incorporating the element of touch and studies show aromatherapy alters the perception of pain through inhalation alone. Both the ill and the loved ones by their side during long days and nights can find relief. (Suggestions: Warm Relief, Cool Relief, Lavender, Frankincense, Peppermint)
- Illness Support: Aromatherapy is generally supportive to the whole person, with specific essential oils particularly protective over germs, viruses, etc. which tend to be abundant in such settings. Stress can impact the immune system also. Oils can support respiratory symptoms, stimulate appetite for those struggling to eat and promote better rest for all involved, all of which help support illness. (Suggestions: Expand, Resistance, Tumm-Ease, Eucalyptus, Citrus Oils, Lavender, and Tranquility)
- Better Rest: Nothing is better than good sleep. Quality rest is responsible for all functions in the body, particularly affecting the heart, blood pressure and immune system. The well-known relaxing properties of many oils can not only carry us into sleep, but also help to keep us there. (Suggestions: Cedarwood, Lavender, Roman Chamomile, Frankincense, Tranquility)
- Spiritual Significance: There is a spiritual component to aromatherapy that cannot be ignored. Documented throughout each culture, across all of time, aromatics play an active role in religious ceremony. There are many references to the use of plants and oils in the Bible. These precious gifts were reserved for high and holy men and valued similar to gold. Aromas were and still are used as a means to better attune oneself to the divine, historically to prepare the body for transitioning (tree oils and resins for embalming), and as a means for protection and purification while working with the dying. The Catholic Sacrament known as “anointing the sick” is a process of using oils for healing the sick, supporting the elderly and the dying and as a rite of passage to heaven. Regardless of your belief, the rituals we see are great examples of the spiritual role of plants play and aromatherapy is a great way help our loved one transition. (Suggestions: Cedarwood, Frankincense, Jasmine, Myrrh, Rose, Sandalwood, Spruce, Tranquility)
Losing a loved-one is never easy. Sometimes the process of transitioning and letting go is the hardest part. Aromatherapy is just one way to support this process.
Remember, although our loved-one is gone from our physical world, their legacy is everlasting. We can always call them back into our life through the memories we hold and cherish and celebrate their life here on Earth.