One of the prevailing themes of growing up and growing older is loss. We lose family members, we lose friends, we lose partners. These losses often lead to grief, and grief is an emotion that we still don’t have even an adequate, let alone superb, support structure for in this society. Look at how we portray funerals in movies, TV and other media: people standing around solemnly at a gravesite while the priest reads off Psalm 23 (“The Lord is my shepherd”.) In real life, we maybe get a day or two off of work to go to said funeral, and then we’re expected to suck it up and get back to our duties. Everything in our modern cultural script about loss says that we have to be stoic and let any emotional expression be strictly private.
And that’s just for grieving the loss of our fellow human beings. It’s only been in the past few years that it’s become more acceptable to openly mourn for the loss of a pet (and that, no doubt, is partly heralded by greeting card companies capitalizing on an occasion to make more money.) Maybe a few hippies and crunchy-granola types are expected to hold memorials for venerable urban trees that are cut down to make way for development.
But nowhere is there a widespread space where we can openly grieve for the loss of nature. I learned this acutely when I was in my early teens, and the open lot of trees and fields behind my home was bulldozed to make way for yet more houses on 1/2 acre parcels of fescue. I was completely devastated; as a badly bullied child I had found my safety and solace in nature, and this loss was legitimately traumatic. I spent the next few years being increasingly isolated and skirting the edges of depression, and no one, not even myself, seemed to know what the problem really was. I had been, figuratively and literally, uprooted.