In the past week I have been asked twice about using essential oils with people who are terminally ill and dying. When this happens it makes me sit up and take notice, and it just seemed logical to write about it this week.
Complementary, or alternative therapies definitely have a role to play in improving the quality of life as it draws to an end. Essential oils can provide comfort on all levels, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual for those who are dying. They can also be very helpful to all those around them, relatives, loved ones and care givers.
At this time it is particularly important to create blends that are aromatically pleasing to the individual making the transition. There are a number of different methods of application that might work, however a lot will depend on the individual, their particular circumstances and their personal preferences. These could include:
Diffusing the blend; mist sprays; gentle anointing with an oil blend; foot or hand massage; compresses. Using a gentle touch combined with beautiful aromas can provide a very special and meaningful experience for both the patient and those close to them.
The best essential oil/essential oil synergy to use will very much depend on the individual and what they are experiencing, so taking a little time to consider this can be helpful when you go about choosing the oils for this very special blend.
In her book, On Death and Dying published in 1969, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross outlined Five Stages of Grief – denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. And this can be a place to start when you are considering which essential oils to add to your blend. What stage is the person at and which oils might be helpful for them right now?
To help you choose here are some thoughts to consider.
In their book “Aromatherapy for Health Professionals”, Shirley and Len Price say that terminally ill patients need strong support to cope with the reality of their illness. Essential oils can play a part in helping to understand and sooth their fears and alleviate their mental suffering. They suggest that frankincense, mandarin, petitgrain and ylang ylang are useful in relieving fear and despair.
From Dr. Berkowsky’s Materia Medica and the notes I took during his classes:
Cardamom – has the theme of being able to ease the passage of the dying to the next plane of existence.
Frankincense – encourages acceptance and understanding
Ginger – encourages acceptance where previously there was only an urge for struggle and fighting
Grapefruit – fosters acceptance, inner peace, forgiveness and self-forgiveness
Lemon – Can be helpful for those terrified of dying.
Myrrh – has themes of aging, degeneration and dying
Rosewood – fosters acceptance, inner peace, forgiveness and self-forgiveness
Oakmoss – encourages acceptance and understanding of past emotional traumas
Sandalwood – promotes peace and acceptance and in Spiritual PhytoEssencing has the theme of death and dying.
Spikenard – enhances acceptance, compassion, inner balance and inner peace
Ylang Ylang – encourages acceptance of who you are.
From my e-book Subtle Energies of Essential Oils
Cypress – eases the pain of losses of all kinds particularly when one is experiencing the loss of someone close. It is very helpful in time of transition.
Roman Chamomile promotes calm acceptance of one’s own limitations and eases the tensions associated with excessive ego such as frustration and resentment. It promotes patience.
Marjoram can reduce fear and comforts and supports one in moving forward. can also be helpful in allowing one to accept deep, emotional loss.
Melissa is helpful when one is dealing with issues around death. It can promote emotional clarity as well as understanding and acceptance. “Patricia Davis says Melissa can be a great help and comfort to those who know that they are dying as well as their friends and relatives. Its sweet, fresh fragrance seems to dispel fear and regret and bring acceptance and understanding as the time of death approaches.”
Neroli can help one to develop the inner trust which will allows self-acceptance and produces feelings of security and protection.
Palmarosa helps to encourage compassionate acceptance and unconditional love.
If the person has a favourite essential oil that they love it can also be a good idea to incorporate that into your blend.
I have found that these blends can also provide a wonderful aromatic memento of your loved one which can be very comforting.
You might also want to make different blends to help support the family and friends through their own process of letting go and coming to terms with the realities of the situation.
Whatever oils you finally do choose to incorporate in your blend I hope and pray that they will bring comfort to everyone concerned.Return to Article Archives