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Grief & Cannabis | Health


In the summer of 1995, I drove out to Arizona from Connecticut in a UHAUL truck. I moved to attend Naturopathic Medical School in Tempe, Arizona for the next 4 years. I was 26 years old and the year prior, my father had died. I was now embarking on a journey across the country from New England to the Wild West. I was feeling many emotions at that time: excited, scared, hopeful, ready to start another chapter of my life being a Naturopathic student, but I was also in deep grief.

I had a few weeks to myself before school started and I attended a workshop by Deepak Chopra in Phoenix. I had read his book: Ageless Body, Timeless Mind (1993).

He is a medical doctor originally from India who talked about the power of the mind and using meditation to achieve a healthy mind state which also helped the body and the spirit. He talked about spiritual health and being an objective observer of our life.

What does it mean to be an Objective Observer of your life?

If we are going through an emotional hard time like losing a loved one, or experienced an injury to the body or psyche, or any other situation that leads to upset, frustration, guilt and depression, then we are entangled with the situation. We are too close to that situation and can not see it for what it is. Our own emotions can block out the truth of the situation because we are blinded by those deep, hurting emotions. It is an uncomfortable place to be.

If we can use our mind and see ourselves – literally – up in space – far away from the Earth, then this gives us some physical distance in our minds of our painful situations. You can imagine yourself up in the stars, it can be whatever you want to look like. Maybe it’s dark, maybe there is light. Look down from where you are, and see the Earth. See it as a whole. It is a living thing. We are but mere little beings on it. Every living being there is operating on its own accord. There is harmony. Things and events happen in our lives and we can observe them from a distance… just as objectively as if watching a movie. It’s not happening to you… you are observing. You begin to feel the peace, the relaxation from accepting it the way it is. The resistance is lessened. Now is when you can begin to move through what was causing the discomfort without the blinding of the emotions.

We can more easily be objective when listening to a friend’s painful situations. Giving advice can be easy to do because we are not emotionally entangled in their situation. Learning to do that with our own life takes practice, but it can bring peace.

I recently had a patient who returned to the clinic to get their MMJ card renewed. I ask several questions during the office visit and one is: How does cannabis help you? After the patient answers, I also ask, how else does it help you? This is when patients will tell me more. They will tell me with tears in their eyes how it helped them with their emotional health. It helped their depression, anxiety, and with some, it helped them to grieve. It helped them to see the loss of their loved one in an objective way. The cannabis helped their hearts to heal and allowed them some peace and healthy emotional feelings associated with a painful situation. Will the pain ever go away? Probably not. Grief is a process. There is no end to it, but it can be transformed. Here are the words of the patient that I saw who is sharing them here with you:

On October 7, 2003 my day started off pretty normal, by the end of that day, my life would change in a way I couldn’t have imagined. My brother, who was only 30 years old, passed away of a heroin overdose. To say it was life-changing would be an understatement. In the coming months and years, the grief turned to blame, guilt and anger. I tried to deal with the loss on my own but it just kept leading me deeper into depression. When I finally got the courage to get help, I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder. At first, I found it shocking to hear that I have mental health disorders, since I have always thought of myself as such a mentally strong person after surviving a rough upbringing.I was prescribed multiple prescriptions and they seemed to help, but I still felt empty, numb and that a part of me was missing. No matter what I was prescribed, the edge was gone but I felt like I could sink back into depression at any moment or time.Finally in September of 2017, I went to get my medical marijuana card for chronic back pain since I had been a warehouse worker and a mover for more than 20 years. Little did I know my life was going to make a change in an almost impossible way. Medical marijuana has made such a difference in my life, not just physically but mentally. I finally feel that I can make it through a day, a week or even a year without worrying when my mental health disorders might resurface.Since being on medical marijuana, I have been able to let go of most of all the doubts surrounding my brother’s passing, I am able to be a part of groups and crowds without feeling the urgency to leave and most importantly, it helped me get back to being the person I was prior to my brother passing but a better version.If anyone was to ask I would tell them that medical marijuana has changed my life from night to day and that there are not enough words to describe all of the benefits that I have experienced since starting medical marijuana.I am honored that I can be a part of something bigger than myself and if just one person can benefit from my story then my struggles were worth it.
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