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5 Essential Oils for Situational Grief

By Jodi Cohen

A person in distress, clutching their head in their hand, expressing strong emotions of sadness or pain.

It’s been a rough week.

The world is changing in ways that feel scary and unpredictable.

And the grief is palatable.

So many of us are mourning the world we thought we knew – A world where we had autonomy and sovereignty over our own bodies and choices related to our health.

Choices make us feel safe and empowered.

The absence of choice can feel scary and tip you into fight or flight and worst case scenario thinking.

No matter what is happening in the world around you and how powerless you might feel in the face of decisions over which you have no control, you always have control over how you choose to respond.

Situational Grief

“Wherever there is adversity, there is situational loss”.

A situational loss “occurs when an unexpected and traumatic life event takes place… These changes are usually beyond your control.”  All loss can trigger emotional pain and suffering leading to grief.  And grief that is unacknowledged or untreated can contribute to emotional  challenges like anxiety or depression.


Essential Oils for Grief

Essential oils can be powerful to process and shift the feelings of sadness, loss, overwhelm and disempowerment often associated with grief, especially situational grief.

This has to do in part with your sense of smell.

You have a direct link between your sense of smell and the areas of the brain responsible for moderating your emotions and behaviors.  When you inhale essential oils, airborne substances stimulate receptor cells in the roof of the nasal cavities. The olfactory receptors carry signals to the olfactory bulb in the brain. The information is then sent to the areas of your brain responsible for memory, behavior, and emotion.

Your limbic system is the emotional center of your brain that controls your hormones and influences your emotions and your mood. The limbic system plays a role in controlling several unconscious physiological functions, such as breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure.

On a physical level, only two synapses separate your amygdala from your olfactory nerve. No other sensory system has this kind of direct and intense contact with the neural substrates of your brain’s emotional control center. Your other four senses, including sound, sight, taste, and touch must travel to other regions of the brain first, before reaching your limbic system.

This makes essential oils an incredibly powerful tool for calming the intensity of some of the emotions that correlate with grief such as fear and anger.

By triggering specific memories or emotions, the aroma from an essential oil may help release grief, improve your mood and promote relaxation.  In fact, research suggests that essential oils may help in the treatment of depression, which is one of several emotions that people tend to experience when dealing with grief.

Oils allow you to gently release these intense emotions, much like you would slowly and carefully unscrew the top of a carbonated beverage to gently release excess carbonation and avoid an explosion.

My Favorite Oils for Situational Grief

Particular parts of a plant and how they can help in the grieving or transitioning period.

Some of my favorite blends below can be used to help gently release and support situational grief.


1. Parasympathetic®

Whenever you feel unsafe, either physically or emotionally, your nervous system kicks into high gear or Parasympathetic State, activating the survival brain either sending you into “fight or flight” or “freeze” shut down avoidance strategies.

It is also important to note, the Parasympathetic State affects EVERY aspect of your well-being. In fact, your Vagus Nerve plays a huge role in your overall health.

Parasympathetic® blend, which contains a combination of clove and lime, is a useful tool to have in your toolkit to support gentle emotional release, relaxation, and your vagus nerve.  Citrus Oils, like Lime, are useful when you need to inject an uplifting and refreshing approach to life and help heal a dark and heavy feeling.  Lime is known to help you ‘let go’ and release anxious feelings.

Your survival “fight or flight” response limits rational thought.  In order to survive, you need to act fast and make very quick decisions.  The ability to pause, ponder and look at a situation that may trigger grief from a variety of different perspectives is therefore not accessible to you when you are stuck in the sympathetic “fight or flight” state.  You therefore need to switch gears into the parasympathetic state in order to unlock your ability to access your ability to think rationally and calm your system. No matter how sad, anxious or overwhelmed I am feeling, dabbing a drop of Parasympathetic® blend behind my earlobe ALWAYS lifts me up.  I think of it as my personal reset button.

When you are able to calm down and drop into the parasympathetic state, you can access better problem solving skills and think more clearly to help process situational grief. Apply the Parasympathetic® blend behind your earlobe on your mastoid bone to help calm your nervous system.

2. Lung Support™

Feelings of grief, bereavement, regret, loss, remorse can obstruct ability of the lungs to accept and relinquish, impeding their function of “taking in” and “letting go”.  Grief that remains unresolved can become chronic and create disharmony in the lungs, weakening the lung’s function of circulating oxygen around the body.  Vibrant Blue Oils Emotion Support Lung Support™ was designed to help overcome grief and let go of negative experiences.

This blend works best when topically applied over the lungs or around the ears.  It can also be deeply inhaled and allowing yourself to gently release intense emotions with your exhale as a powerful strategy to allow you to micro-dose emotional release.

3. Rose

Flower Oils, like Rose, are powerful when you need to get out of a dark place.  Rose oil is also known to bring a feeling of love, create a sense of well-being and release past hurts, like grief.  Its benefits were documented in studies that found breathing and blood pressure relaxed after Rose oil was applied to the skin.  I like to apply this one over my heart.

4. Heart™

Heart™ blend was formulated to balance the heart to support, integrate and reset all the systems of the body, including mental clarity, physical health and emotional balance. The heart is our body’s reset button.  By applying Vibrant Blue Oils Heart blend over the heart, it helps return the heart to balance, and strengthen our ability to process difficult emotions like grief.

5. Frankincense

Resin Oils, like Frankincense can be helpful when you are feeling wounded or beaten up. Resins also have properties to help heal physical cuts.  It can also be very grounding, when you need something to help you feel strong, maintain your core strength and hold it all together.


Featured Oils:




About The Author

Jodi Cohen

Jodi Sternoff Cohen is the founder of Vibrant Blue Oils. An author, speaker, nutritional therapist, and a leading international authority on essential oils, Jodi has helped over 50,000 individuals support their health with essential oils.