When Paula Stephens struggled with grief following the death of her son, relief came from an unexpected source – essential oils. Here she suggests six essential oils that can relieve the depression and anxiety attached to grief, and that can boost your well-being and focus. 

Sometimes, the universe conspires in the strangest of ways. Shortly prior to my son Brandon dying, I became the proud owner of a natural and organic body and bath company. I started to learn so much about natural body products and reveled in putting the products together from scratch myself. Part of my new education was about essential oils, which I hadn't had much experience with previously. 

I found myself drawn to these scents after Brandon passed. Creating products became my sanctuary from the weight of my grief. Indeed, using essential oils for grief became an unexpected tool in my coping. 

One of my strongest memories to date of healing scents is of taking a buttermilk bath with a blend of rose, vanilla and grapefruit – heaven! The warm bath water had blended into a delicious mix of buttermilk, Epsom salts and scents. This bath released so much emotional tension from inside me I could almost feel it leave my body.

Heaven scent: essential oils can help during grief

Sometimes I'd go down to my basement with the essential oils and just start to smell whatever scent called to my emotional needs at the time. I began to notice trends in what I was drawn to and how it made me feel. Indeed, when it came to help healing my grief, there was definitely some mystic magic happening between me and my essential oils.


Essential oils: the short and smelly version

There's so much I could tell you about the healing power of essential oils and the many ways you can use them. Additionally, there’s the whole blending of them to create even more magic! But for now I will share a short version of what you need to know to start using these essential oils to help with your grief and healing.

Essential oils are derived from plants, bark, leaves and other plant/trees preserving their essence, scent and healing properties. The best and easiest way to use them is to either inhale them or rub them on the skin. Only a small amount is required. 


“I found myself drawn to these scents after Brandon passed. Using essential oils for grief became an unexpected tool in my coping.”

When we do this, essential oils combine with our bodies' natural processes to enhance our physical, mental and emotional well-being. Quality matters with essential oils, so buy the good stuff. Luckily, they are generally not very expensive. You should purchase oils that are pure and all natural with no synthetic scents added.


The essential essential oils for grief

I could give you dozens of options to start exploring, but for now I'm going to stick with some basic oils that should be easily available from any natural grocery store. Additionally, to keep it simple, I'll only list them individually and unblended with other essential oils. But keep in mind that there are many great blends that are packaged for a particular emotion, such as grief. 


1. Essential oils for depression and anxiety

These two oils are both calming essences.


Known to reduce tension and help with sleeplessness, bergamot is also an emotional powerhouse helping to release fear, anxietydepression and support self-love.


This essential oil for grief is one of the most well-known and popular essential oils and one of the few that truly has lots of scientific data backing up its calming effects. Be sure to use natural lavender, not a man-made synthetic. You can apply drops directly to pulse points and put a few drops on your pillow case before you go to bed to help if you can't sleep

Purple reign: lavender is the king of relaxing plants and oils


2. Essential oils for focus and clarity

These two oils will help to clear your mind and focus. 


Known for its uplifting properties, peppermint also clears the mind and increases focus. It's ideal for when you can’t let your grief stop you completing an important task.



This is a popular essential oil right now and for good reason. Rosemary increases both mental function and clarity. Some studies have shown that when it's combined with lavender it can reduce cortisol – the stress hormone. 


3. Essential oils to lift spirits

These essential oils will help to boost your well-being and manifest joy. 

Mostly any citrus

Grapefruit is my favourite, but you can also use lime, sweet orange or lemon! Citrus is emotionally uplifting and produces positive outward energy.



Rosewood is known for its anti-depressive qualities and it's also used to reduce headaches and lift mood. On a side note, rosewood trees have been over harvested, so please use with a conscious spirit.



Using essential oils for grief

In the future I will most likely do a second post listing additional essential oils for grief. The fun part of using essential oils for grief is that you can play around with the oils to find out which work best with your own emotions and body. Enjoy trying these out and let us know in the comments below what works well for you!  

If you're struggling with grief, head over to our forum on grief to chat directly with other members of the community for support. 


Written by Paula Stephens

sienna-saint-cyr.jpgPaula Stephens, M.A. is the founder of Crazy Good Grief, an organization that teaches positive growth and resilience after the loss of a loved one. Her work is inspired by the personal loss of her oldest son who passed away unexpectedly while home on leave from the Army. Paula is a speaker, yogi and  life coach. She's also the author of From Grief to Growth: 5 Essential Elements to Give your Grief Purpose and Grow from Your Experience. Paula is a practicing Buddhist and recently became the first Buddhist Chaplain to work at the county jail where she lives. She's the mother of four boys and lives in Littleton, Colorado.



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