Updated: Feb 11
An exploration into how we can use the natural world of herbs and flowers to mourn death, celebrate life and elevate the body and spirit into a place of connected transformation.
Attitudes about death have changed significantly.
In the last couple of decades, with advances in technology, chemistry and effectiveness of drugs, many people have increased life spans. Unfortunately, all too often life is preserved well past connecting body, mind, and spirit. Death, whether accompanied by disease or not, is a natural part of the cycle of life. Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, who was a Swiss-American psychiatrist, a pioneer in near-death studies, and author of the internationally best-selling book, On Death and Dying, first discussed her theory of the five stages of grief, observed that we live in a very particular death-denying society.
‘We isolate both the dying and the old, and it serves a purpose. They are reminders of our own mortality. We should not institutionalize people. We can give families more help with home care and visiting nurses, giving the families and the patients spiritual, emotional, and financial help in order to facilitate the final care at home.
Natural ways to ease grief and support healing.
The loss of a loved one can be a difficult and painful experience, and many people are searching for natural ways to ease their grief and support their healing. There are many plants that have been used to help with the grieving process, as they can bring comfort. One approach that has been used for centuries is the use of herbs for death and dying. Some herbs have sedative properties that can help calm the mind and body, while others have anti-inflammatory properties that can help ease physical discomfort.
Learning how to respond, rather than react, to our grief is something worth navigating with care and awareness. This is what allows transformation, new growth. When working with herbs, flowers, plants and grief rituals, the focus is on letting go of what is no longer serving us. Allowing death to what has run its course, and finding a new way to stay connected to eternal love.
Plant's healing and hallucinogenic powers
As humans, we have a long history of surviving physical and emotional trauma, in part, because of our relationship to plants. Flowers and herbs have played an established part in religious and healing rituals since ancient times across different faiths and cultures. For most of us their use is like a lost language of our ancestors.
In Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers by Albert Hofmann and Richard Evans Schultes, the authors argue that many indigenous cultures have used psychoactive plants in their religious and spiritual rituals for thousands of years including their use in treating mental and physical disorders. They show the differences between the traditional use of psychoactive plants in indigenous cultures and the modern, recreational use of these substances. The authors emphasize the importance of understanding the cultural context in which plants are used, and the dangers of interpreting these practices through a Western lens.
Flowers and their symbolism
Flower symbolism became fashionable in England during the Elizabethan era although people had traditionally used floral expressions and other plants as a way of metaphorical communication for eons. Rosemary is a herb that has a long rooted history in funerals. As in folklore it was used to show friendship, purification, happiness and remembrance. It was thrown into open graves to help the dead to find their way. Due to its strong smell it helped to cover any unsettling odors in rooms where the body was laid out for people to visit. One of the most popular herbal flowers for death and dying is lavender. Along with Chamomile, lavender is known for its calming properties, it can help soothe the mind and body during times of stress and grief. It can also be used to help reduce anxiety, depression, and insomnia, which are common issues that arise during the grieving process.
Flowers have traditionally been seen as a symbol of life and its cycle, of nature’s ability to blossom and fade, die and be reborn. They are often used in memorialization perhaps as a reminder that life goes on, and that there is still beauty in a world affected by death. It is nature as a form of heaven on earth. We rely on symbolic actions and rituals in a time of sorrow, as a way to express our condolences, bereavement and love. Laying flowers at a graveside, on the body, in adornment and in the home to express our inherent connection with nature’s beauty, with a life lived and love eternal.
Due to some cemetery regulations Fresh flowers are removed as they die, and artificial flowers are not allowed for the same reason. Flowers Forever can be placed around the headstone, carved into the stone, or displayed in vases within the home….
The importance of ritualization of remembrance helps us to stay connected to the loved one, and is a healthy way to move with our grief.
Let's talk about Psychedelics and Death
Join our Chat Group on Psychedelics and Death – hosted by Robert Mitchell a transformative therapist and learn how Psychedelics have a positive contribution to make to the experience of those both fearing, or approaching death.
Visit digitalandstone.com to find out more about environmental, artistic and digital memorials, and to grow your Tree Of Life.
Side notes and additional resources on herbs for death and dying
While herbs can be an effective tool for easing grief during the dying process, it is important to consult with a healthcare provider before using any new herbs or supplements. Some herbs can interact with medications or have adverse effects, and it is important to understand the potential risks and benefits before using them. In conclusion, herbs and flowers can be a natural and effective way to support the grieving process. Whether used to calm the mind and body, ease physical discomfort, or simply bring comfort and remembrance through connection to nature’s cycle of life, they can be an important tool for those who are dealing with death and dying.