When our children are born we hold them tightly to us and promise to protect, nurture and provide unconditional love forever. It seems a lifetime away when they will be going to university, moving away from home or going to live in another country. Suddenly in the blink of an eye that time is upon us. As they’ve grown we’ve nursed them, sat up all night when they’re ill, kissed grazed knees, applied plasters to teddy bears who’ve fallen while playing with them, taught them right from wrong and most importantly how to be independent.

I remember gazing into my son’s dark eyes when he was born (typically like me we don’t conform to normal eye colour) and knowing that our journey wouldn’t be an easy one but it would be one full of love, discovery and at times wonder. Widowed not long after we started our journey together. A close friend became our companion and soon my partner and together we have navigated the ups and downs of family life. At times, I have as all parents must do despaired, worried as well as cried with pure joy.

I’m not sure where the years have gone but the time has arrived for him to go to university and for us to start life as empty nesters! Music for the last 8 years has been ever present in the house initially with a recorder (the cat of the time used to open the wardrobe door and sit in the back while he was practicing), ukulele, guitar and then finally the melodeon. The silence is palpable, ever present and not relieved by playlists from Spotify or the radio in the background. It’s a different noise – not the personal noise from learning new tunes, practising sets and that wonderful moment when instrument and player become one and the tune has soul and emotion.

The house is tidy, no glasses missing from the cupboard, no plates taken upstairs, the clothes basket strangely empty. These should be positives but now they shout that he is missing. Both cats keep looking accusingly, where is he? When will he be back? Into his University stuff were packed essential oils. He has been raised with aromatherapy being the first line of defence for colds, coughs, cuts and bruises. Tea tree, Lavender, Lemon, and Ravensara included in the first aid box to be used by him and no doubt administered to his flat mates.
My essential oil box has been opened daily to help cope with the roller coaster of emotions I’m feeling. Oils that bring comfort and make me feel like I’m wrapped in a soft fluffy blanket helped calm and soothe my emptiness. Night time is different as I’m also adjusting to being in the house on my own some nights (my partner has his own house so isn’t a constant). My current ‘go to’ essential oils are:

Sweet Marjoram (Origanum marjorana) has always been a favourite. Its analgesic action is good for emotional as well as physical discomfort. Shirley Price describes it as ‘a hug in a bottle’ (1). For me it feels like a fleece blanket wrapped around my shoulders as I drift to sleep.

Benzoin (Styrax benzoin) is not an oil that I always am drawn towards. It’s sweet stickiness reminiscent of vanilla often is too much for me. However, at the moment my emotions must need the sweet comfort of the resinous blend. Mojay describes it as a ‘sedative’ essential oil and indicates it for use in nervous anxiety and worry made worse by exhaustion. (2)

Cocoa CO2 extract (Theobroma cacao) is a new oil that has sat on my desk since it arrived a few months ago never making it to the essential drawers in my treatment room. Being a self-confessed chocolate lover, it lifts my mood, makes me smile and reduces my need to comfort eat on days when things aren’t going well.

Pink grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) had been a recent addition to my ‘emergency rescue’ list. I love the softness of pink grapefruit. It’s much more through a ‘rose tinted dropper’ than traditional grapefruit. For me it releases emotions, lifts the mood and adds a lift to the comforting blends. It takes me from curled up and sleepy to awake and wanting to start the day.

Bitter Orange (Citrus aurantium var. amara) reminds me of Marmalade. It has that deep slightly bitter edge to it. There’s also the wonderful association with Paddington, watching the new movie on TV with all of us crying with laughing at him in the bathroom. Wonderful blended with Cocoa CO2 as a ‘comfort food’ for the soul. Known to relieve anxiety, stress and insomnia Patricia Davis notes Orange nourishes the soul, feeding it with feelings of joy (3).

May Chang (Litsea cubeba) is one of my very favourite oils. Often called ‘happy oil’ it reminds me of lemon sherbet sweets from my own childhood. It blends beautifully with Orange to dispel the cobwebs and brighten the day. Blended with Frankincense (Boswellia carteri) it takes on a supportive role. Stillpoint Aromatics cite is as having anti-depressant, anti-anxiety and sedative properties (4).

Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) is a classic ‘go to’ essential oil for anxiety, stress and insomnia. Citrus but with more support is how I like to describe it to clients. Added to Benzoin at bedtime it helps me drift into a settled sleep. Lawless quoting research by Rovesti reports that bergamot had important psychological effects on patients; it helped relieve fear and calm anxiety (5)

Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the classic oil for insomnia, stress and anxiety. The English ‘cure all’ oil blends wonderfully with Bitter Orange and Sweet Marjoram for a day time diffuser blend to help relax the mind from racing down negative rabbit holes! Mojay quoting Peter Holmes writes that it is both habit breaker and crisis soother. (2)

I know he will return for weekends, reading weeks and holidays and these I look forward to sharing, making new memories to soothe the days when I miss him being there. I won’t mind the glasses left empty after each drink, falling over his shoes that haven’t been put on the rack or the clothes basket that is always full. He is doing what he is passionate about. His love of music burning bright and creating a man that I am in awe of at times. At the end of the day I have raised him to be independent and although at the moment I feel that I’ve perhaps done the job too well I know in my heart of hearts I have helped shape the life of a teenager wise beyond his years with a true passion for what he does who can cook, look after himself and is not afraid to do what makes his heart sing.

1. Price, S. The Aomatherapy Workbook. London : Thorsons, 1998.
2. Mojay, Gabriel. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. Aromatherapy for Healing the Spirit. London : Gaia Books Ltd, 1999.
3. Davis, P. Subtle Aromatherapy. Subtle Aromatherapy. Saffron Walden : C.W. Daniel Company Limited, 1991.
4. Brownley, C & Musacchio, J. May Chang Essantial Oil. Stillpoint Aromatics. [Online] 2017. [Cited: September 15th, 2017.]
5. Lawless, Julia. Aromatherapy and the mind. Aromatherapy and the mind. London : Thorsons, 1994.