Experience Grief as Life Enhancing
Grief potentially gives value to life. But the pain of grief can make living unbearable. Homeopathy can help to relieve the physical and emotional consequences of profound sadness so that life can be lived more fully.
A friend of mine, LS, emailed me asking about Ignatia as a remedy for grief. Our mutual friend's husband fell down the stairs and was found dead with a broken neck --- A beloved father and husband; too young to die. When she contacted me, LS had not slept since she began supporting our mutual friend.
LS looked up grief remedies in a homeopathy dictionary, a repertory. There she learned that Ignatia is a common remedy for grief. Grief means a deep sadness for a loss. "Should she give Ignatia?" she asked me. Below, I share my response.
Below, I differentiate two major grief remedies, explain why other remedies may be needed and give practical tips on taking homeopathic remedies.
Major Grief Remedies
Ignatia is for the first stage of grief. Hysteria or even shock will lead you to give Ignatia. Weeping is a common reaction to an unexpected loss. The Ignatia patient calls for your attention. To give Ignatia, laughter alternating with weeping differentiates Ignatia from other grief remedies. This is because the physical and emotional symptoms of Ignatia change rapidly. Please look up Ignatia in your materia medica.
You will see that it is a much more extroverted remedy than the other notable grief remedy, Nat-mur. Ignatia emotions are obvious. When Ignatia has no more energy to continuously act out her emotions, then she resorts to sighing. Physical exercise feels good because Ignatia patients are in the process of expressing emotion --- MOTION and emMOTION are related. They feel better when they are aware of their pain, so weeping helps them. Lying on the painful side also feels better. Unlike the more chronic grief patient, they are not avoiding the pain of grief. Even so, some of the emotion becomes physical. So, after they begin to grieve, headaches, trembling and sleeplessness trouble them. A lump in the throat is one of those symptoms of emotions becoming physical because Ignatia tries to stop sobbing, yet her total being is devoted to expressing her sadness. (Our culture tends to support Ignatia symptoms in females, but males can use Ignatia too.) So, Ignatia feels this lump when crying. The lump expresses the contradiction between trying to control her emotions and her strong desire to express her emotions.
Keith Souter beautifully describes the much more profound grief of the chronic Ignatia patient. https://www.britishhomeopathic.org/charity/how-we-can-help/articles/homeopathic-medicines/i/ignatia/
The acute pain felt following the loss of a loved one may have become somewhat chronic, but please remember that at the intial stages, we need only the surface symptoms to give Ignatia for grief. We do not need the degree of detail found in Dr. Souter's description.
Salt or Natrum Muriaticum is the most common remedy for grief that has had time to fester. The Nat-mur patient on first glance looks a lot more "normal" than the Ignatia patient. They are hiding their emotions, so coaxing them to tell you how they feel will be difficult.
The above Ignatia hysterical stage is very tiring. If the Nat-mur patient started her grieving process with hysteria, because of exhaustion, she withdraws. Many of the symptoms are opposite to the first stage of grief in the Ignatia patient above. Whereas the Ignatia patient wants to be hugged and consoled, the Nat-mur patient may even become angry if you sympathize with her. Nat-mur wants to be alone to brood about past unhappiness. They want to listen to sad music and dwell on their losses. Physical exertion becomes tiring because they need introverted stillness to wallow in grief. Any physical expression runs counter to the withdrawing behavior, so it is tiring. Because they are over-thinking, they get throbbing headaches. They appeared invincible, but actually, they are vulnerable, and most of all, past emotional distress reminds them of current weakness. Thus, they do not let anyone come close to them emotionally. Particularly their loved ones upset them. At this stage, the grief may become chronic.
Surprisingly, a person can be in a chronic stage of grief for 30 years. After they take Nat-mur, they will begin to regain their energy. That kind of patient will fit the Nat-mur image in ways that are deeper than what I am describing here. For a broader description of Nat-mur see
For all of us, it is vital to digest grief. The behavior described above is neither bad nor good. When daily life becomes too overwhelming because of such deep depression, then sadness becomes pathological. Even if the outward symptoms are not so debilitating or the patient denies that they have problems, Nat-mur can help. Usually, they appear normal, given the circumstance. Indeed, their grief itself does not need to be fixed or eliminating. A homeopathic remedy will not erase such pain in any case. It will just help the patient to go through the grieving process more quickly and thoroughly.
People who have the common physical symptoms of Nat-mur are much more likely to go into the state described above. Their observable symptoms could include dry skin, a desire for salt, or avoiding strong sunlight. When the grief begins to penetrate their entire being, their physical symptoms may also become more like the typical symptoms of Nat-mur. My friend is thin like Nat-mur, but I think of her outgoing --- never a loner. Even in the most profound grief, I would be astonished if Nat-mur were my friend's chronic remedy. Take care. Here I am voicing the prejudices that will lead to the wrong remedy. To find the curative remedy,I must ignore such thoughts. Instead, I am guessing that giving her Nat-mur would help her with her grief, but it would not heal her other chronic problems. For example, if she has a back problem, that will not heal because Nat-mur is not close enough to her constitution. In many case, attending to her grief will help her to move forward in life so that a chronic problem that could not be cured my Nat-mur, could be easily cured using another remedy.
Please note, all such thoughts about what is the constitution of the patient are useless and distracting preconceptions. Cases based on clear observation of what is happening at the moment are much better than cases undermined by personal stereotypes and second-guessing.
Disregarding all such prejudices, if I saw a strong reaction to Nat-mur, I would undoubtedly repeat it and then carefully follow the patient's developing symptoms.
Without so much theorizing, if the grief is recent, and some of the above symptoms are obvious, then usually I give the most common remedy. Also, if the patient does not fit the Ignatia pattern or has already passed the hysterical phase, I would certainly try Nat-mur first. Later, if I were not satisfied with the results of Nat-mur, I would begin comparing other remedies that are prominent in cases of grief. Here it helps to have a good materia medica. Note, you can find descriptions of the common remedies such as Nat-mur or Ignata online owning books may not be so important in the beginning.
I am going to describe a few other remedies below, so that you can see that homeopaths do not automatically give Nat-mur with the expectation that it will cure every case of grief. The acute pain felt following the loss of a loved one may have become somewhat chronic, but please remember that at the intial stages, we need only the surface symptoms to give Ignatia for grief. We do not need the degree of detail found in Dr. Souter's description.
Other less common grief remedies
If you take care of the grieving person to point of exhaustion, you could go into a Cocculus state. Remember that my friend, LS, did not sleep for a week because she was grieving and also caring for our mutual friend. (Pharmachological note: Traditional fishermen use full strength Cocculus as a nerve poison to stun fish.) So, the symptoms of homeopathic Cocculus focus on the nerves. If you look up the remedy Cocculus, you will read "convulsions, cramping, sensory nerve disturbances and a slowing down of everything." Such symptoms may occur as the caretaker winds down to prostration. There is none of the hysteria found in Ignatia. Coculus is not a typical remedy for grief in the way that Nat-mur is, but I am mentioning it to tell you that it is not necessarily only Nat-mur that would be the next phase after Ignatia.
An Emergency remedy during Constitutional Treatment
Note also, LS happens to be getting good results from a constitutional remedy that is not typically give for grief. More doses of her constitutional remedy may help her to sleep. Or she could take Cocculus 30c several times until she is able to sleep. Then, she would go back to her constitutional remedy.
Another possibile remdy is gold, Aurum metalicum. Here the grieving person becomes hopeless and despondent. The problem contrasts with Nat-mur who is withdrawing from others. Instead Aurum becomes obsessed with a massive sense of responsibility for others.
Allow me to make up a story that suggests the remedy Aurum for grief. My grieving friend is a highly responsible leader in the school where she teaches. She hypothetically could suffer from the feeling that she cannot do what she needs to be doing at school because of, for example, fatigue. Grief causing fatigue but weighed down with responsibility make me think she might need Aurum. When she cannot fulfill her responsibilities, she would think that she is not worthy. So she lacks self-confidence and feels that no one can take care of her. She could also go to the other extreme. She could becomes dictatorial. She cannot listen to opposition from others because of her fixation on her responsibility. I really cannot imagine this actually for my friend because I know how balanced she is. But people also change under duress.
How to Choose a Remedy
Please look up grief in the mind chapter your repertory. http://www.homeoint.org/books/kentrep/kent0050.htm#P51 A repertory is a dictionary where the common symptoms of human suffering are described. One of the remedies in bold type is Nat-mur and a couple of others indicating that they are the most common. Actually, remedies are described at only four levels in most repertories. If there were a fifth level of remedy suitability, then Nat-mur would be the only remedy. So, give it even if you are not sure. If Nat-mur does not work then you can talk to me and we will figure out something else. Even a whole community of friends and family who are grieving with my friend, now a widow, could probably benefit from Nat-mur.
If you have Nat-mur 200c in your home homeopathy kit, then take that. If you only have Nat-mur 30c, take it but plan to take it several times a day if necessary. What does "if necessary" mean? 30c in some people could be effective with just one dose. It works quickly and thoroughly because it happens to be a close fit to their symptoms and they will not feel a need to take Nat-mu 200c more than once. Others will need 30c several times a day to feel even the slightest effect. People differ in their sensitivity to any given remedy.
Recognizing and Following up on a Remedy
It is easy to recognize Nat-mur because sometimes we all feel like him/her, or we know someone like him/her.
The Nat-mur tendencies in all of us make us feel uncomfortable talking about our problems. We know we have issues, but we do not want others to focus on us because we feel vulnerable.
If the effect of your remedy is minor, please take heart. A partially helpful remedy often leads to another more healing remedy. Interestingly, even if Nat-mur only heals superficially, it will help the patient feel comfortable and more able to talk about their problems. Then you can go and look for the more appropriate remedy. Homeopathy is not an all or nothing treatment. A little help can lead to more relief from another remedy.
How to give the remedy
Whichever potency you select, put the pellet of Nat-mur in a half-full bottle of water (a small pet water bottle or a small jam jar) so you can succuset (shake) it each time you take it. If you do not have a covered container, just stirring it with a spoon is good enough. If you can put a temporary cover on your container, the water will stay fresher. No one ever died from stale water, so do your best. To prevent the water from becoming stale, you can add a few drops of vinigar or drinking alcohol.
If 200c does not seem to be working within a day, try it again the next day. If it is not working by then, call me. 30c several times a day should act like 200c. 30c is a relatively low potency, so you have to take it more often. It will be used up quickly if it is appropriate for that person. Within a couple of days, you should have clear results. If not, let me know and we can look for another remedy. Or you can research the list of grief remedies in the repertory and look for something more appropriate.
Here are some online discussions of related grief remedies:https://healinghaven.co.nz/homeopathy-for-grief-and-emotional-trauma/
Learn Reliable Homeopathy
The best postion to be in when a remedy that seems right does not work is to be able to use an online repertory. I am putting up lessons on how to use this repertory. If you are interested, let me know. I give private lessons for free. I am in the process of teach people to use homeopathy so that they can find the right remedy with more than beginner’s luck. You need to be willing to allow your voice to be recorded online. And you need a good enough microphone so your voice can be clearly heard by others.