Climate Grief: Coping in the wake of the coronavirus and racial injustice

Tatiana Eaves
3 min readAug 26, 2020

After a year of high profile publicity, protests, and marches for our climate, public concern over the climate crisis has become somewhat of an afterthought. The global pandemic has sparked a new immediate emergency that demands the attention of our climate leaders and our communities.

Individual behaviors during the pandemic are changing. People of all kinds are floundering to not only take care of themselves, but provide for their families and communities. Taking care of a sick relative, educating our children, or paying our bills. And if our job is deemed essential, we’re worried about getting sick ourselves. On top of everything else, Black and indigenous communities are grieving. And it’s a heightened kind of grief. A grief that has festered for more than four hundred years.

Black and indigenous people are not only disproportionately affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic, but also bear the weight of environmental and health impacts furthered by the climate crisis. The Black Lives Matter movement, since its founding seven years ago, shed light on the intersection of racism and a multitude of other injustices in the United States, including climate change and global pandemics. Just because it resurged in the media doesn’t mean the fight for justice is over.

We must continue uplifting excluded voices, advocating for equity, and connecting communities with resources. However, it is important to recognize that burn out, overwhelming anxiety, and frustration is real. Be patient with yourself and continue the fight when you are at your best. We need you. These are deeply unsettling, terrifying times. But we cannot allow our urgency over managing a pandemic to cause us to lose sight of a developing environmental cataclysm predicted by thousands of scientists.

We, as activists and humans, are terrified, We are distracted. We are isolated — buried under a daily deluge of news about racial injustice, coronavirus horror stories, and the destruction of our environment. This puts climate leaders and our communities in a tough situation. How are we supposed to work toward climate justice, and raise awareness to its interconnected issues, in the midst of all of these crises? This pandemic shows us yet again how fragile and…