Friday, June 2, 2017

Can grief make your sick?

Photo by  Christian Newman

What is grief? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, "to feel or express great sadness, especially when someone dies." Everyone grieves differently, most people are sad, others get angry, some might even show little to no emotions. Whichever way you express your emotions, know that this difficult time too shall pass.

Grief is an intense emotion, which can often cause stress to the body and trigger a flare for those of us with an autoimmune condition. I used to grieve quite differently before I knew about the connection between grieve and wellness. I hope by sharing my new found way to grieve, along with my tools to aid this transition which are journaling, self care and essential oil, I can help ease your passage smoothly into the" life goes on" phase without doing much damage to your body.

As most of your know, the AIP and IBD community lost an amazing woman, Martine, the blogger behind Eat Heal Thrive last week. Like many people, I was shattered by the news.

It was in the very beginning of my healing journey, shortly after I started following a Paleo way of eating but still desperately trying to get rid of all my Ulcerative Colitis symptoms when I met Martine over at Instagram.   Following Paleo had helped calm gut, but I was still controlled by many symptoms IBDers are familiar with. I was physically weak and trying to recover from the drastic weight loss that comes with IBD. That's when I learned about a positively charged blogger with Crohn's, who also happens to be Canadian,  known as the Paleo Partridge back then. She shared about a protocol she was following called AIP (Paleo Autoimmune Protocol) and gave me hope that I could have a future that is less trapped in between the four walls of my IBD symptoms. Besides looking into this healing protocol, AIP,  I began practicing gentle yoga and immersing myself in art to distract my mind from my consuming health. Martine and I connected through our mutual love of yoga,  I was immediately drawn to her contagiously positive energy. Seeing someone who also battled IBD with her enthusiasm was so encouraging. I was inspired by her spirit, her cleverness and her brilliance with words. She was such a great writer.  Martine showed me a different world about IBD, her firm mantra says it all, " I have Crohn's. It doesn't have me".  So I decided to model my healing after this remarkable woman. We chatted over IG comments mainly about yoga and art. Our brief conversations sparked me to create a fun project of legging designs, mainly to take my mind off of my limitations. Leggings were just starting to trend then, so I went with the flow and transferred some of the floral paintings onto the leggings designs. I was so excited when Martine supported me by being the first to buy a pair.

As I got more into blogging, I would cross paths with Martine here and there about recipes and yoga. She always brought a smile to anyone she interacted with and that is no exception for me. We might not have been close, but we were friends, and I felt her support alongside me on my IBD journey.

A new way of grieving

Martine's passing shocked and devasted me. Naturally, I fell into my old way of grieving which was to be sad, be very very sad. I cried and wanted to be consumed in sorrows. I always thought that the longer I stayed in sadness means the more I cared about the person I am grieving for. This is how I watched my mother grieved when my father passed away, 10 days after our wedding, so I recognized that to be the way to show your love. As it turns out this was a very unhealthy way to grieve. When my father died unexpectedly, my mother and I felt completely destroyed. I held on the grief far too long because that was what my mother did.  As a result, I helplessly watched her neglect her health through grief. I remember my then new husband asking me "how long are you going to grieve for?" and my thought was "how insensitive of him?" But now I know how lucky I am to have married someone who can be up front with me.

Now I have finally learned that unhealthy ways of grieving got me in big trouble with my health. My prolong period of grieving was probably part of the cause of my autoimmune disease. Why? Because grief is a stressor, stressor raises cortisol. Read more about this HERE

After a week of teariness and moping around, something lit up in my head,  I was reminded of Martine's mission, her essence, and how she always empowered people. She made them feel Good! So I thought,  Heck NO! I am not going to bury myself in my old habits and go against everything Martine stood for.

What did Martine teach me even after she left this earth? She taught me to look into my approach to grieving. There are different stages of grieving. Anger and Sadness are the ones most people are familiar with, the important thing is not to dwell on it for too long. Give yourself the time to BE with it, then RELEASE it and move on.

As for the tools I used to help me through these heavy times, here they are.


I wrote and wrote and wrote. Sometimes, I wrote so fast that I did even know what words or letters were pouring out of the pen. This is how this blog post began. The pen to paper action was very therapeutic and freeing for me. If you are used to typing, I encourage you to try the old fashion way of writing and see if it makes you feel more connected with your feelings.

Self Care

I really stepped up my self-care. I guess it is a way of honouring the emotions and being with it.  Beside sleeping more and taking Epsom salt baths, I took full advantage of the freshly finished backyard with the hammock my husband built. I think everyone needs hammock time often, it is quite magical to be wrapped up like a baby and feel completely safe and secure.

Essential Oils

For emotional support, I pulled out my Young Living essential oils blends like Release, Valor, Believe to focus on my intentions. I liked putting drops of Believe on my head to diminish doubt,  Release on my heart dissolve tension or pain and Valor on feet for the courage to move forward. All of Young Living's blends are specifically created with the frequency to match their purposefully chose names. And Yes they work!

Through exploring essential oils as part of the process, I learned about a fascinating healing technique that uses the oils to facilitate an emotional transformation called Aroma Freedom Technique. You can read more about it HERE but I plan to dedicate a blog post in this technique in the near future.

So, whoever you are grieving for, cry if you want to but don't dwell on the sadness for too long. Honour your loved ones and keep their legacy alive. #herworkliveson because so will ours. I hope by sharing how I grieve and using journaling, self care and essential oils as support,  I can offer some comfort in easing yours during a time of need so that this necessary process will not secretly harm your health.

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