Tender Witness:Climate Grief & Resilience
~ creating a personal toolkit ~
What will grappling with the real life ramifications of climate change look like for us personally and in our communities? How do we balance the necessity for practical action, with trauma caused by overwhelming events? How do we understand what we are losing, and decide what we may be able to protect or preserve? How do we turn away from the cultural norm of callousness towards the Earth and learn new habits of caring for our planet and for each other? What if you could call someone, have a serious conversation about these questions, be heard and encouraged? What if the result of this conversation is an action plan that includes self-care and an investment in the common good? What if...?
Climate grieving is not like any other kind of trauma humans have experienced. Because it is unfolding across systems and planetary in scope, there is no place to migrate to that is not being affected. It is one thing for a lay person to 'know' we are losing species at an alarming rate and to feel alarmed. It is another thing entirely to understand the cause and effect of how these losses will translate into the collapse of eco systems. And another thing again to understand that what we can grow in our own gardens is changing, the same birds don't return, pollinators have less collective hum.
Climate grieving is not triggered by a single event that we then move away from in time. Rather it originates in ongoing systemic change that causes an array of related losses and consequences, day in and day out, in every aspect of our lives. We must learn to balance these large and small sorrows; we must learn to carry them and also to release them.
I have no convenient answer or package or program. What I hope we can do together, on a pragmatic personal scale, is collaborate to design a toolkit for daily survival. What I have learned about working with people who live with chronic and intractable pain is that sometimes none of the tools will work. But usually one of them will help us through to the next moment, and the next. These survivable moments can be strung together.
In my experience grieving is more of an unruly scribble than an orderly process with predictable stages. It is exactly this unruly nature of grieving that makes a toolkit strategy so workable. We are facing a great extinction. In preparing to grapple with loss on a planetary scale, our understanding of a meaningful response evolves beyond the simple and reliable '5 stages of grief'. We are responding creatively to a pressure that is not likely to dissipate. It will be steady and unrelenting and so we have to be flexible and build resilience on the fly.
I am not a specialist in anything besides being. Being is not mindfulness, it is not scholarly, it is not even a process. My intuition is to ask: what kinds of things do you want in your tool kit? What skills do you want to develop as you adapt to this changing world? What seeds do you want to save and sow? What memory palaces do you need to preserve of places that will be changed or lost? What rituals will help you remember, or let go? What will encourage you to action?
This is how it works:
Be in touch with me, my contact information is at the bottom of this page. We can email, text, or talk on the phone. If you decide you'd like to work with me then we'll discuss your specific concerns and goals in more detail. We can decide together how my services will best meet your needs, or whether it is more appropriate for me to provide referral to another helpful professional.
A few things you should know:
If we're local and/or it helps, I can make home visits.
If I don't offer or know something then I'll help you find someone who does.
I work on a sliding fee scale, there is always a fair and affordable way.