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I believe that the world was created and approved by love, that it subsists, coheres, and endures by love, and that insofar as it is redeemable, it can be redeemed only by love.

Wendell Berry

I’ve been thinking a lot about the briar lately—or more specifically, the rose. I see a need for the actions of Rosa spp. over and over in my clinical practice. Perhaps this is why rose can be found so abundantly in all parts of the world. It’s an herbal ally for the people—far-reaching, gentle, and profound. Plus, you can use all parts of the plant—the petals, buds, hips, leaves, and root.

Rose is a common plant—one we often have a connection, memory, or fondness for, especially through its aromatics. Take a moment to pause and conjure the scent of rose in spring or early summer. Not only is rose far-reaching—touching many people and places—but grief is also far-reaching and a true part of our humanness. We can’t avoid loss and grief, but in this post, I’d like to focus on rose as a simple herb and how it can be used for grief support.

Rose has many uses for wellness concerns that arise during states of grief. Throughout this post, I’ll give insight into the ways that rose can soothe the human spirit during grief and include some simple recipes for use as well.

Rose for Grief Support

Permission To Create Boundaries and Let Go

During profound grief, I find it useful to repeat the mantra, “No is not a bad word.” The word no can often be just the right remedy we need to support ourselves. No is the opportunity to listen to your needs, honor how you are feeling, and feel a sense of empowerment during a time that may feel out of control.  

While grief can leave us wanting to be alone, not attending social gatherings, or opening our homes to others, it’s okay to trust your no and create a boundary (Devine, 2017). When grieving, we may need to be reminded that we have permission to softly open to our grief, and the world, when we are ready. We can also give ourselves permission to create a supportive boundary as we navigate the most tender of times. Rose exemplifies thriving boundaries and can offer us the gentle support to discern what, or who, we want near us in our most vulnerable moments.  

Most times, our senses delight and open when near rose; however, honoring the thorns is an important part of creating boundaries that work for you. The thorns are not to wall you off from the outside world, but instead, they express the complexity, beauty, and darkness that accompanies grief. The thorns act as a reminder of respect. Rose is not pushy, and anyone that is grieving should not be pushed or forced to feel anything other than exactly how they feel (which can shift from moment to moment). Rose can be a gentle reminder of beauty, of sensory engagement, of flow, and rhythm especially during moments that feel disjointed, unclear, hazy, and confusing. It allows you to be as you are while grieving, all the while holding your hand as you experience and release emotion. To grieve, you need to unwind, to loosen your grip, and let go. Rose gently supports this process. Rose is a true companion during times of settling into our grief. It supports us in letting grief be present, in shifting our lens, and in noticing the richness within the most human, most dark, parts of ourselves.

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