Herbs in Hospice: Easing the End of Life Transition with Plant Medicine

Public domain image from http://www.wpclipart.com/plants/herbs/Rosemary.pngPresented by Certified Herbalist Jennifer O’Brien

In the modern world, our cultural relationship with dying and the transition into a new life cycle has increasingly become a sterilized and hidden-away process.  This class is intended to open up a conversation and empower individuals to become more present and involved throughout the dying process of our loved ones. Hospice care is often staffed with some of the most forward thinking caregivers in our current healthcare system. The hospice model of care, whether taking place in the home or at a facility, can be one where the natural process of transition into a new life cycle can be supported with the power of plant medicine.

Come learn about the common physical needs of those in transition, like pain management, and explore herbal remedies, herbal actions, and herbal energetics to soothe and support. People’s physical bodies often take on heightened sensitivity during the dying process. The class will talk about herb/drug interactions and safety guidelines when administering herbs during this transition. There are a variety of ways to offer herbal assistance during this time that can be especially supportive like application to the feet and washing the body with infusions.

As the body lets go, the heart and spirit also become more sensitive. Individuals will often be processing a tremendous amount of their past emotional experiences while also facing the uncertainty that lies before them. The class will have an in-depth discussion on specific flower essences and essential oils used to soothe the common experiences of anxiety, grief, fear, and nervousness. Many of the herbs, flower essences, and essential oils discussed will also be helpful for the family as they let go and grieve.

The creation of sacred space will be touched on with the use of dried plants wrapped into smudges, aromatherapy, and certain gems and stones. Creating and holding sacred space, as well as the use of sacred plants in burial rites, is a part of many traditional approaches to the transition into a new life cycle. We will taste and smell some Meadowsweet tea, the beautifully fragrant flower that the Druids used to honor and comfort their elders as they moved on. You will also take home a time-honored aromatherapy blend used to comfort and assist the soul in transition. You are invited to reconnect with our ancestors, contemplate the significance of this part of life, and to deepen your understanding of the needs of our loved ones as they transition from this world.

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