Late morning on Saturday, February 11, 2017 is a memory that I will never forget. My step-father had left me a voicemail message. It sounded like he had been crying. Then, the text message came. "Jonc... call me NOW!!!!!" Oh no. Something had happened. I could tell it was really bad, so I braced myself for the conversation that was about to happen.
There was no amount of bracing that could have prepared me for the way my heart was about to be shattered though.
My Most Favorite Person in the World
My younger brother, Ian, was my favorite person in the world from the very moment he was born. Every time I spoke to him or saw him, I told him that he was my most favorite person in the world and I loved him more than anyone else. I would also try to talk him into coming out to California to live with me every time we spoke or saw each other. Seriously though, if Ian (or Bubba as I called him) didn't make your heart warm or your face smile, then there was something really wrong with you. None of this love was enough to keep him alive, however.
So that Saturday morning , I called my step-father back. He answered the phone with a howl, "Ian died!!!!" My heart shattered into a million pieces as I crumbled to the floor.
I have experienced arguably more than my fair share of loss and trauma in life. But nothing ever hurt like this. The pain has never been quite so deep or overpowering. The next few weeks of my life were a daze. Sensitivities exposed from the rawness of my emotions often caused interactions with people to be painful. Obsessive thoughts about how he died, whether it hurt him, and ways that I might have just one minute with him flooded my thoughts making concentration impossible. The excruciating waves of grief would continue to take me back down to my knees for weeks. There was no way to say it other than life was really hard to live.
Piecing My Life Back Together
Then came the really hard work of trying to piece my life back together. In her influential work in the late 60's, Elizabeth Kubler-Ross outlined the 5 Stages of Grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance). Reading some of her work again was helpful to remember that death and grieving are necessarily a part of life and are experienced in some pretty predictable ways. It was helpful to be able to acknowledge these predictable emotions. None of this intellectual work eased the pain of the shock, disappointment, anger, sadness, and disorientation I was experiencing however.
So, I did the only thing I knew how to do... give myself some space to acknowledge the pain and Practice the Art of Healing. And, reach for the bottle of homeopathy. Because it was such a traumatic time, the remedy that I reached for frequently changed, but there were a few that were most helpful. Since the loss of a loved one or a relationship is likely the most painful experience any of us will have, it seemed selfish to keep all of these "secrets" to myself.
Subtly Profound Effects of the Medicated Little Pellets
With my undergraduate background in neuroscience from the University of Michigan, homeopathy was one of the strangest tools for healing that was presented to us during naturopathic medical school. Because of its subtly profound effects on my healing process when I was first diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis, however, I paid this controversial form of medicine a little extra attention.
Now, with more than a decade of full-time study and practice of homeopathy behind me, there has been one consistent observation. The power of homeopathic medicines are often related to their ability to ease the effects of stress in life. And the loss of a loved one (or relationship with a loved one) is undeniably stressful. Homeopathy won't take the pain and stress of the grieving process away, but it can ease some of the damage to your health and relationships. And maybe, just maybe, you won't need to turn to pharmaceutical medications, drugs, alcohol, or other forms of self-abuse to ease the pain.
There are literally hundreds of homeopathic remedies that could be used when we inevitably get "stuck" after the death of a loved one or relationship. It is best to work with a trained professional to find the one that is best for you. None of these examples are meant to replace the care of a well-educated and qualified homeopathic practitioner or anyone else on your healthcare team. Rather, the examples are here to share that the pain of the loss of a loved one is a normal human process, most all of us get "stuck" along the way, and there are some non-addictive ways to ease all of this pain. You don't have to carry the burden by yourself, you do have some options other than addictive drugs. But you do have to ask. Here are a few of the remedies that are often turned to following the loss of a loved one:
Aconitum napellus: symptoms of shock including restlessness, anxiety, tingling, anxiety with a very sudden on-set
Ignatia amara: symptoms of profound grief with rapidly alternating moods, a lump in the throat, and frequent sighing.
Staphysagria: symptoms of irritability and anger, with a particular tendency towards throwing things and indignation (feelings that the death was unfair or wrong).
Aurum metallicum: symptoms of depression with thoughts of suicide. ***Do not take this remedy without the support of a trained professional. So many people have shared with me stories of attempted suicide following the death of a loved one (especially a child) however, it seemed important to share this remedy so you know there are options. If you or a loved one are experiencing these thoughts, please speak up and talk to a professional for some support. This remedy or thoughts of suicide should never be treated at home without the supervision of a trained professional.
Again folks... Please don't try this at home. At least not without the support and advice of a trained professional. Especially for a trauma or stress as painful as losing a loved one. These examples are meant to inform you of some options that don't include pharmaceuticals or other addictive substances to discuss with your qualified healthcare provider. Homeopathy can be very helpful to many people as they navigate thru the grieving process, but the guidance of trained professionals is essential along the way. If there is ever a time in life to reach out for support, that time is always now.
If you or a loved one is having thoughts of harming themselves or others thru the grieving process, please reach out for help. There are options for support. Most areas have a hotline that you can call for emergency mental health advice. In the San Diego area, the number is 888-724-7240.
I wanted to acknowledge that life goes on but that death goes on, too. A person who is dead has a long, long story.
- Elizabeth McCracken
In loving memory of my Bubba, Ian Jensen (8/26/82-2/11/17). My most favorite person in the world.