Many of my friends have cabins that are threatened by the Sierra wildfires. Across the country, others are dealing with the devastation of Hurricane Ida. Twitter has been filled with messages of shock, fear, grief, pain, and loss.
I think people go through Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief as the devastation of climate change starts to really affect their lives: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
To those who are dealing with these stages of grief, I wanted to offer one of my most beloved books, “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times,” by Pema Chödrön, an American Tibetan Buddhist. Chödrön is an ordained nun and was director of the Boulder Shambhala Center, and then Gampyo Abbey.
Chödrön writes about using meditation to experience our most vulnerable feelings: fear, grief, loneliness. She says,
Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.
Chödrön also writes about “the great need for maitri (loving-kindness toward oneself), and developing from that the awakening of a fearlessly compassionate attitude toward our own pain and that of others.”
We will all need that compassion towards ourselves and each other in the days to come.