In an interdependent system, continually over-prioritising the needs and desires of a single component will eventually cause the entire system to collapse. There is increasing mainstream commentary about the possibility of human extinction being brought on by the failure of our structures. Living with the grief of human extinction may be akin to how a person with a terminal diagnosis might experience his or her final phase. There is awareness that death is undeniable and a question of how to move toward that death with dignity.
For ultimately hopeful societies brought up believing in the human ability to solve all problems, this perspective is hard to countenance. If all human motives are ultimately derived from a biologically based instinct for self-preservation, the culture we create often serves to minimise the terror of extinction by providing a shared symbolic context that gives the universe, order, meaning, stability and permanence.
Climate grief is recognised by the Australian Psychological Society as a strong psychological response to the current and future loss of habitats, species and ecosystems. Counselling psychologist and researcher in environmental psychology, Tristan Snell comments on the lack of rituals around loss of environment, “When you lose someone, there’s a funeral and all sorts of ways people connect and this helps process that loss. That’s just not the case for loss of environment.”
With this work, we offered a small step on the pathway to creating such rituals. Amongst the constant churn of public discord, we made a private space of mourning. By outwardly acknowledging feelings of grief we can begin to accept them which can help us transition to future possibilities.