Many of us are grappling with news stories about how our climate is changing irrevocably and that species after species is dying out – that our Earth, our home as we know it, is dying. We may want to disengage because it feels too painful to contemplate. We may fear for our future. If we have children we probably fear for their future. For the first time in our history we are looking at our children having potentially much less than we do. So often I have heard young people being told they are our “hope”. I have said it myself. And, I believe we place an immense burden on them every time we say it. Not only have our, and previous generations, messed up the world for them to the extent they may not actually have a future, we then burden them with being the ones who must turn it all around.
Much like post traumatic stress being pathologised by being called a disorder, instead of a healthy response to traumatic circumstances with which we often need help, our natural fears associated with climate change have been pathologised by being called Climate Change Anxiety. Fear is the normal response to all we are being told, and are experiencing in our daily lives.
If you believe yourself to be untouched by the loss of our wild habitat I recommend The Overstory, a beautifully woven story by Richard Priors. It has deeply reconnected me with my grief for the loss of all the wilderness from my childhood, a microcosm of the loss worldwide.
What to do?
Joanna Macy, long time climate change activist and author of Coming Back to Life, suggests that we allow ourselves to feel the grief for all that is being lost, to really allow the feelings to flow, and then to connect with others for the loving support we need in order to act for our planet. She is a deeply compassionate woman who knows that we cannot all be activists in the generally accepted meaning of that word, and, that we each have a place. Our work may be joining organisations that are making a difference, signing petitions, writing a blog on our website (!), talking to friends and acquaintances about what’s going on, creating a piece of art, encouraging others to make changes to their lifestyles, or, indeed, going on marches and demonstrations. Our work is to discover our place in it all.
You could bring your grief and other feelings about all that is being lost, all we are losing, to a Death Cafe. Do check the Death Cafe website for the next date.
There are wonderful organisations that are making a real difference. Check out Stop Ecocide (Polly Higgins’ work), Extinction Rebellion and Tree Sisters are a fabulous start.