Privileged to Grieve

By Carol Devine

In her session at the 2022 American Climate Leadership Summit, Coping with ecoGrief: What It Is, How to Cope, Hannah Malcolm explained that unlike other stressors, there is no closure for the anxiety and grief we have due to the climate crisis. Extreme weather events, the loss of flora and fauna, heat-related illnesses and deaths, respiratory illnesses and deaths, cancers and so many other climate-impacted health issues are not going to decrease in the known future. The stress, anxiety, and grief that comes from the climate crisis is here to stay.

I am extremely privileged to work in the area of climate and faith. I am privileged to acknowledge the stress and anxiety that the climate crisis has on my life. I am privileged to grieve. Grieving, Hannah Malcolm says, is learned, and so our goal should be to do it well.

Grieving well for me involves being outside as much as possible. It looks like hiking, cycling, kayaking, and gardening. It looks like transforming my yard from grass to native species plants and trees. It looks like bird feeders and bird baths in my front and back yard. It looks like a bat house, insect hotel, small vegetable garden, and compost pile. And it looks like being outside or looking out through a window while the words of lament from the author of Psalm 130 (NRSV) stir in my heart:

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!

If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.

I wait for the Lord; my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with [God] is great power to redeem.
It is [God] who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities.

back of woman hiking up a stream on a rock bed with leafless tress on each side

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