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Hawthorn for a Broken Heart: Family Herbalism for the Soul

Hawthorn For A Broken Heart: Family Herbalism For The Soul

A few years ago, my best friend of 12 years passed on. She had been my constant companion, confidant, and biggest supporter, loving me unconditionally even when I made mistakes. Her passing came as a huge shock; she’d been in apparent good health despite her advanced age.

Her name was Buttercup, and she was a tri-colored basset hound.

The day she passed, I took care of my family. We were all grief-stricken. I was numb with disbelief. I moved through the day like a robot, making meals, doing laundry, straightening, caring for my home and my guys while our life ground to a halt in the face of death.

Then, the guys went to run a few errands, and in the silence they left behind, my heart cracked wide open. I hadn’t expected to hurt so much. I loved her, of course. Deeply, I knew, too. She wasn’t the first dog who’d left my life, either. I realized that day that she’d burrowed far deeper into my heart than I’d dreamed possible. Losing her hurt. Physically. Emotionally. Psychologically. Spiritually. I hurt all over, but most especially in my chest.

I cried for several days before I sought help from my herbal cabinet. Flower essences, especially Rescue Remedy (aka Five Flower Remedy), Pink Yarrow, Honeysuckle, and Elm called to me. They helped, but it wasn’t enough to ease my broken heart.

Nettle, Red Clover, Dandelion, and Burdock root had always been friends when I needed to cleanse, so I turned to them next. While they helped, it was Hawthorn who really soothed my soul. I brewed a quart of healing tea each day, giving myself time and space to just be while my decoction simmered on the stove, then letting it stand in a canning jar on the counter all day. Through out the day, I would stop and pour a half a cup to a cup, straining off the herbs as I poured then dropping them back into the quart jar with the rest of the decoction. I added a few drops of my flower essence formula to the cup, then drank it. Sometimes, I gulped it down, often on the heels of great sobs. Sometimes I sipped, carrying it into my living room and sitting by the front window where my girl loved best to lay in the afternoons curled up on her quilt. Slowly, the pain began to subside.

Hawthorn helped me care for my heart and chest while I processed all that grief. I believe the physical pain would have escalated rather than diminished had I not turned to Hawthorn for help. I hold sorrow, anger, tension, and all manner of challenging emotions in my body, often painfully so. Sometimes, getting all that emotional energy out is overwhelming, exhausting, and even scary. Hawthorn helped to protect my physical being while it felt like my Spiritual Heart was so deeply injured.

Healing took a long time. I still miss my girl, but her spirit lives on in my heart and soul..and in the Big Black Dog who came to stay just a few months after she departed. Hawthorn has become a strong and faithful partner for the both of us, helping keep our bodies and Spirits balanced so we can share many long, sunny afternoons together in the woods or on the couch. Together, we practice what my girl taught me: Love every minute of every day with a Big Heart. I’m grateful for the magic of Hawthorn helping us along the way.

Candace Hunter

Candace Hunter is a self-taught herbalist and artist who never, ever practices on guinea pigs in part because her family and friends are generally up to the job. She is co-author of The Practical Herbalist's Herbal Folio series and author of Herbalism for the Zombie Apocalypse. She edits The Practical Herbalist website and Practical Herbalist Press publications. She has also recently entered into the field of podcasting with reckless abandon. Listen to her on Real Herbalism Radio today, see her work at, or find her on Facebook at Candace Hunter Creations.

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