Dear Partners in Green,
It is hard to believe that it is already 2022. And COVID and its variants are still running rampant, political tensions are still running high, and Climate Change continues to bring death and destruction at a seemingly accelerated rate. Our emotions may run from anger, to fear, to frustration, to hopelessness, and even to grief.
In the past few years, a great deal has been written about Ecological Grief, or Climate Grief defined as a psychological response to loss caused by environmental destruction or Climate Change. It is a different kind of grief, for many have described it as grief without end.
As I have mentioned in the past, it is important for us to not lose the engine of hope, to not give into the inertia of despair. With that in mind, I am sharing findings of a teacher, Jennifer Atkinson, at the University of Washington.
As a climate educator she wanted to directly address this despair, so in 2017 she created a seminar to help students seeking relief from Climate Grief.
She wrote, “Something unexpected happened along the way. I had always thought of grief as a bad thing, a dark state to avoid or overcome as quickly as possible. I thought that feeling grief was like giving in to a preventable illness, or that once it took hold I might fall into a bottomless hole of despair. Like the students who signed up for my class, I was hoping to extinguish my pain for all this suffering.”
“Then it dawned on me that maybe we were seeking solutions to the wrong problem. We all wanted to fix the way we felt so we could go back to feeling happy. But grief isn’t something to be fixed, because it’s not dysfunctional. It’s a healthy and necessary process we have to undergo in order to heal. In fact, grief can be a valuable source of wisdom and compassion as we move into an uncertain climate future.”
She continues, “This may sound controversial in a moment when environmentalists are urging us to focus on hope, but the two aren’t mutually exclusive. Grief may even turn out to be our best ally in this age of climate crisis as it acts as an agent of transformation.”
First, grief isn’t just one of many options for accepting loss. Grief is the process of accepting loss.
- We need to process the emotional toll of lost beauty and life. We are not just losing what we once had, we’re losing the future we counted on. She adds, “If we deaden our sadness and pain how can we still feel love and compassion?”
- Grief breaks down the boundaries between ourselves and other species. When we grieve for the loss of forests and rivers, we are asserting that non-human lives are also worthy of mourning. We refuse to accept their exclusion from the human circle of compassion.
- Grief can act as an agent of transformation. You will not grieve for something you don’t love. Grief is the pain felt in losing something dear to you. The artist Chris Jordan claimed that when we try to be cheerful and suppress our grief for the world, we’re also suppressing our love for it. Jordan writes, “Grief and love can be seen as inseparable twins. When we hold grief at a distance, our love becomes inaccessible; and when we embrace grief, we reconnect with the essential aspect of our being that has gone missing.”
(The full article can be found on the link listed below.)
May your grief lead you to action and to transformation. May your lives reflect your love and compassion for this Earth and all that dwell upon it.
Nature’s first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf’s a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.
Wishing peace and health to you and your loved ones.
Thank you for being on this journey.
Till next time,