Responding to climate grief and eco-anxiety: could you help?

In the climate emergency ..

People are increasingly finding the courage to confront the depth of the climate emergency.  Doing so is far from easy: it requires emotional and spiritual support from others who see the same risks ahead.  But far from triggering despair, facing the facts and our fears can galvanise us to act with greater purpose and equanimity. 

In Green Christian we want to create places where people can find mutual support on the journey through climate grief and eco-anxiety.  It’s work which requires new skills, new insights and new ways with words. 

Can you help us?  We would welcome hearing from anyone who has a contribution to make.  If you think you may be able to help, Paul Bodenham would be very pleased to hear from you at
(paulbodenahm@greenchristian.org.uk) .

Borrowed Time – initial proposals

Provisional aims:

  • to provide safe regenerative spaces, online and in person, where people can work through the emotional, existential and spiritual challenges which the emerging prospects of collapse and extinction provoke
  • to empower those participants to offer society new understandings of human identity, relations, purpose and destiny which might unlock urgent political action and economic change
  • to form moral pioneers committed to safeguarding social solidarity and making new meanings in a context of turmoil, disorientation and potential civilisational collapse.

Skills and experience sought

A project like Borrowed Time will need to draw on a wide range of skills.  Perhaps the skills listed below will be among those we need.  If you feel you have something to offer, please get in touch.  When you do so, please say if you would be willing to work with the assumptions proposed in the next section.

  • Psychology and therapeutic disciplines
  • Bereavement counselling
  • Palliative care
  • Climate science
  • Academic humanities
  • Pastoral care
  • Social change
  • Theology and spirituality
  • Creative arts
  • Project development.

Proposed assumptions

It would help the project to make early progress if those who volunteer could reach early agreement on some basic assumptions.  We’d like to propose the following.

  • That climate change and other ecological damages could result in societal collapse, potentially in current lifetimes
  • That in order to postpone or reduce the risk of collapse, there is an urgent and increasing need for disruptive personal and political choices
  • That whatever the success in reducing this risk, action also is now also required to prepare for and adapt to a future of radical uncertainty
  • That for most of the participants in the meeting, a Christian faith is a motive for attending, and a frame of reference for interpreting and envisaging a future of profound uncertainty
  • That the work of Prof Jem Bendell on Deep Adaptation offers a legitimate account of the global risks, and the responses now required.

6 comments on “Responding to climate grief and eco-anxiety: could you help?
  1. There is a Future Generations Ombudsman in the Hungarian Parliament (proposed by me in 1988). Basic right of all the future children: not to be conceived by accident or because of interest of others. Spiritual excercise and education for sustainability: only responsible reproduction by well-prepared parents! Human right of contraception (UN, 1968) is the most effective climate action: https://www.drawdown.org/

  2. Damon Hoppe says:

    Alas ecological grief is a disenfranchised form of grief with no formal support available. As such I feel we need to be creating an network of Ecological Grief support groups across the country.

    A such I have recently started working, with the support of local Quakers, in Stafford to create a self help group for people suffering from ecological grief. I am currently trying to develop a Stoic approach with elements of logos therapy using mindfulness, meditation, eco-therapy (experiencing nature as nature), arts therapy, etc. I have also been looking at Jem Bendell’s writings on this and his ideas of ‘deep adaptation’ in addition to ideas of ‘regenerative culture’

    The group has revealed the depth of feelings of despair that people have, the powerlessness they feel and the sense of isolation as it seems no else cares. This is state is worsened by the fact that we are also now having to facing social collapse as well and the anxieties this also brings to the fore.

    Transcending these feelings is quiet challenging as many of those suffering, who have attended the group, are long term eco-campaigners who have also been involved in efforts of ‘deep adaptation’ and attempts to create eco-communities, etc who thus feel they have done everything possible but to no avail. Many as a result are thus experiencing a loss of meaning in addition to an intense sense of grief, anxiety and despair. Under such circumstances a more Stoic approach seems the most appropriate to transcending these feelings.

    My own background is as a philosopher and ecological campaigner but I do have some degree of knowledge and skills in the ares the article identified psychology (theory), Climate science, Academic humanities, Social change, Theology and spirituality, Creative arts and Project development. In addition to these skills I feel we also need to develop and equip people with the skills of ecological living and working towards the creation of co-operative eco-communities.”

    As such I am willing to help other groups but I am also looking for assistance with the group in Stafford.

  3. Tanya Jones says:

    I’m deeply moved and grateful to read about this initiative. I don’t want to over-promise, especially as my personal plans and my role within Green Christian are both in some uncertainty, but I feel fundamentally drawn towards some kind of involvement. I don’t know quite what I can contribute but am soon beginning work on a dissertation on human rights and climate litigation, which might have some useful connections, and I may also be able to write something creatively. And yes, I agree with the proposed assumptions. I’ve only just begun to explore the concept of deep adaptation but all I’ve read so far leads me to conclude that it is the only honest response. Thank you.

  4. Ozzie says:

    This is amazing.
    I did not realise that such a condition exists. I know that many are dragged down by ‘The News’ and the adversarial appriach of Our UK Media.
    I guess that I am dragged down too by the Media in various topics, and the incomplete reporting on Palestine, The Owman who went to IsIS, and today the false report on BBC that the protesters want ‘more extreme’ [their word] to tackle the reality of gathering Climate Chaos.

    What can I offer? Self? coaching skills on around what are the issues for group or invidual, and then who might on, can one move forward….

  5. Gwen Prince says:

    I am aware of the need for some grief counselling for those dealing with climate change at a deep emotional level. I am not familiar with the work on Deep Adaptation ( I would like to know more) but as a Quaker I was a founding member of the Living Witness project and facilitated workshops for various Quaker groups on responding to climate change. I also attended a 3-day workshop with Joanna Macy some time ago and have found her ‘Despair and Empowerment’ exercises very helpful in helping people express emotions evoked by the ecological crisis. I am also a member of XR and have offered these to my local group.I have Counselling skills, so if any of this experience is of use, I am glad to offer them.

  6. Laura Deacon says:

    I am willing to work with the assumptions outlined. In terms of what I can offer … I have a post-grad diploma in Person Centred Counselling (University of Lancaster). I can listen with empathy and unconditional positive regard. The condition of eco-anxiety seems to be becoming more prevalent. Radio 4 has recently devoted an episode of Costing the Earth to eco-anxiety. I don’t underestimate the difficult times ahead of us. I cannot do very much nationally, so I work where I am in a small way to create connections between humans, and between humans and the living world around us. I try to witness to what is happening in my immediate vicinity and to share that with the people who live around me. I have planted fruit trees. They will outlive me and bring some joy and sustenance to the birds and insects who live in and around them, and to the people who will live here after me.

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