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Grief, Loss & Coping (Reading Group #2)

In Makuru season, we leaned into the emotions that often come with the cooler wetter months, and chose texts on the theme of grief, loss and coping. 

Feast: The Glad Shout by Alice Robinson 

Taster: Change Maker Chat with Margaret Klein Salamon (Change Makers podcast)

and/or Living with Loss chapter in "The Handbook: Surviving and Living With Climate Change”, by Jane Rawson and James Whitmore

Ambiance: "Paper Ships", in Throat by Ellen Van Neerven (Poem)

and/or Doomsday Clock, by Abbe May (song on YouTube)


Eight people attended across the in person and online reading circles. We shared intimate and thoughtful hours together. 

We also talked about how the urgency and threat of climate crisis is relative to other crises and losses people may have experienced before. For example, the loss of a loved one, loss of a physical or cognitive ability and of course the loss of Country and culture as a result of colonisation (see podcast Ni! Means listen; Video lecture by Kim Tall Bear called the sharpening of the already present lecture; and an article Too late for Indigenous climate justice by Kyle Whyte).

We talked about how feelings of urgency to act on climate can exacerbate our inability to regulate our emotions and turn anxiety into action and promote an unhelpful ‘finger pointing’ dynamic of blaming and judgement when what is needed is for every sector, family and community to act in proportionate and equitable ways. 

We connected this to a quote from Brene Brown - “All I know is that my life is better when I assume that people are doing their best. It keeps me out of judgement and lets me focus on what is, and not what should or could be.”

Other texts we discussed include:

  • 'This changes everything' by Naomi Klein
  • 'The ministry for the future' by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • 'How high we go in the dark' by Sequoia Nagamatsu

Discussion prompts: 

  1. Abbe May sings: 'I used to want to be sedated, rather than contemplate it' - how do you balance your need to pay attention with your need for self-care?

  2. What does 'coping' mean to you?

  3. In The Glad Shout climate change is intergenerational, inevitable, and ignored until it can't be. In the Jane Rawson & James Whitmore essay one of the suggestions is 'take action'. How do you see your responses to climate grief in these two positions?

  4. Ellen Van Neerven writes 'I know what you're thinking, how can we save the world when we have just barely survived it'. How does their poem help you reflect on grief and coping in a different way to the other texts?

  5. What is 'too late'? Does it exist? For whom?

  6. What does this teach us about climate justice
Keen to explore this theme yourself or with friends? We encourage you to buy your books from independent book stores (such as Rabble Books & Games), borrow from libraries, or share books among friends..

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We acknowledge that we begin our work as The Climate Justice Union on the Boodja (land) of the Wadjuk people of the Noongar Nation. We honour the Wadjuk people and their kin in other Nations and Country across these lands and waters, who have always cared for this place and all who lived here.

We acknowledge First Nations Elders past and present, and acknowledge that those of us living here, who came from across the seas, live on land that was taken, stolen. We acknowledge the responsibility that comes with this understanding and that we personally and collectively benefit from this theft.

As such, we all have a responsibility to decolonise ourselves, our lives and work, and to heal the harm these oppressive systems have inflicted.

Click here to read our full acknowledgements

We are a community union and do not cover you in your workplace. All Climate Justice Union members are also encouraged to join the relevant industrial union. Click here to find your industrial Union.

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