[updated 5th August 2020]
If you have come to recognise that climate change will lead to a near term collapse in our way of life, or even worse, then this can be a very difficult realisation to process, integrate into our lives, or communicate to other people. It is normal to feel strong difficult emotions around these topic. These may include grief, anger, guilt, confusion, fear, or even numbness.
In my experience, the key thing is not to sit with these emotions on your own. If you have a trusted person or people in your life, with whom you can share openly about how you are feeling, then that’s ideal. This may be family members, friends, neighbours, colleagues, or a GP or mental/emotional health professional. If you seek help from a professional, remember it is not your responsibility to ‘protect’ her/him from the reality of the climate emergency as you see it. We have heard lots of anecdotal reports from people whose psychotherapist or counsellor sought to pathologise their fears around likely societal collapse. This is becoming increasingly less likely as the urgency of the global situation is becoming more openly recognised, and ‘climate psychology’ is emerging. However, if you experience this, you may consider finding a different source of therapeutic support.
If you’re feeling wobbly and like you can’t cope right now, here are a few things you can do if you’d like to help shift your emotional response.
If you feel suicidal, or if there is any risk of harm to yourself or others, seek professional help right away. Mental and emotional health professionals really are there to help, do trust their kindness and skills. You can find some emergency contact numbers and websites in this document, or search online for organisations in your country.
Many people feel very lonely in their experience of facing the reality of climate emergency and its unfolding impact on people and planet. Therefore, here are some links to resources that I have found helpful, as they enable you to get in touch with others.
Death Cafe movement is an umbrella movement providing support and resources for local face to face community death cafes. You can find out if there’s a cafe near you, or even start one. This movement is not overtly about climate grief, but the meetings are absolutely open to anyone, and anything that they might bring.
The Positive Deep Adaptation Facebook Group. This one focuses on sharing ideas and information on how to live well after acceptance of likely (or unfolding) societal collapse. You won’t see posts saying we can stop a catastrophe nor on how bad things are getting, but ideas on how people and organisations are responding positively… Even if that just means how to reduce suffering. This one is my initiative and connected with the Deep Adaptation Forum (see below). You can find a range of free online gatherings on the ‘events’ page which aim at providing a space space for people to connect and support each other through their journeys towards deep adaptation.
The Human Near Term Extinction Support Group on Facebook. I have not concluded that we are going extinct but the people on this group offer useful support to people struggling with that possibility in their awareness. There is also a similar group, same topic but mentioning love in the title, and I’m not sure what the difference is.
The Deep Adaptation LinkedIn group is more of a professional focus, and less sharing of resources and support for emotional processing, but still offers the possibilities of connecting with others who are considering the implications for their own lives of climate crisis.
The Deep Adaptation Professions Network is a place for deeper engagement and collaboration. Again, this platform is aimed at different professional perspectives.
The Deep Adaptation Guidance website has been created by volunteer members of the DA Professions’ Network, and aims to help people find the support the need, from guides across the world who are experienced in integrating ‘collapse-awareness’ into their work with people. Some offer free or low cost support.
Climate Psychology Alliance is aimed mainly at the psychotherapy profession, but has some useful resources. In addition, in the UK this group has launched a network of therapists to provide support. For info, email CPAtherapeutics@yahoo.com
The Reframing Collapse Facebook Group also can provide helpful feedback.
The Dark Mountain network is also beginning to put people in direct touch with each other
In addition, there are a variety of sources for reading and listening…
Islands of Sanity podcast
Any books and articles by Caroline Baker
I write up some of my own reflections on how I have been trying and wobbling to integrate this awareness into my life and work, in this rather long reflective piece called “After Despair.” I also explored some of the emotional aspects of this topic in an hour long interview here.
Ultimately, I think we will best supported by activities that support our emotional resilience so that we are better able – individually and collectively – to integrate and be with difficult emotions in a mature, grounded and loving way. That way, we can learn to move through the paralysis of grief, fear or uncertainty, and begin to make choices that can help reduce harm.Whether these activities are spiritual or agnostic, these forms of grassroots, diverse, non dogmatic, collective inspiration and support will become more important. If you have suggestions, please enter them in the comments below.
If you want to attend events to discuss these issues with people, then you could click ‘follow’ underneath this article to receive blog posts by email.
If you are still thinking whether it is wise to further explore your acceptance of this predicament, perhaps because of ideas it might be irresponsible or counter-productive to think we can’t prevent a breakdown in our society, then I recommend reading my post on forms of collapse-denial.
My academic paper on the latest climate science as well as the many forms of denial about our situation is available for download here.