Like millions of us, I still have tough moments every year on September 11. In addition to the immense trauma caused by the unimaginable assaults on our nation, I mourn a personal loss. One of my beloved massage clients, Lorraine Bay, was a flight attendant on United 93 and perished near Shanksville, PA. Every year, I recall the moment I realized that Flight 93 was Lorraine's flight. And every year, I lovingly wear the ribbon I received at her memorial service.
In 2001 I was the owner of a successful massage and holistic healing center outside of Princeton, NJ,. Just an hour’s ride by AMTRAK into the heart of Manhattan, our community was home to many commuters, many of whom were our loyal clients. Our staff of gifted practitioners worked magic on their stressed and weary muscles and spirits.
So after 9/11, we found ourselves busy in a way we'd never imagined or wanted: treating the grief, shock, trauma and loss of people who had lost loved ones, knew people who lost loved ones, had been in one of the towers and escaped, or were in the neighborhood of the World Trade Center and witnessed things no human being should ever have to see. It was an inexpressibly difficult and demanding time to be in a caring profession, yet I have never felt more rewarded by my work than I did in the days and weeks immediately after the tragedy. And I was never more proud of the compassionate, caring therapists who worked with me.
As an aromatherapist as well as a massage therapist, I had often witnessed the power of essential oils to support emotions. I’d learned that it’s not just because they smell nice—the sense of smell is literally hard-wired into the emotional center of the brain, meaning that the first response we have to smelling an essential oil is emotional. My collection of essential oils became an invaluable tool in supporting the distraught people who walked through our door.
We always had a diffuser running in the reception area, welcoming our guests with the subtle aromas of oils known for centuries to support grief and sadness. I started each of my sessions by placing a few drops of a special blend in my hands, gently rubbing my hands together and holding them a few inches above my client’s face, inviting them to take three slow deep breaths. The effect was usually immediate and often profound. Tears started for some who had not yet been able to cry. Deep sighs of release came from others. Still others simply whispered “Thank you” as their bodies began to relax for the first time in days, even weeks. The name of the blend? Trauma Life.
I still remember the names and faces of many of the people we cared for in those terrible days. My eyes still fill when I think of my friend Lorraine who died on a plane headed for San Francisco that sunny morning. My heart still swells when I remember the love and care with which my team welcomed the people who needed them. And every time I open my bottle of Trauma Life, I say a prayer for all of them—the souls who were lost that day, the neighbors who found comfort within our walls, and the healers who treated them.
If you'd like my "short list" of oils I've found helpful for grief and loss, just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be glad to send it along.