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 Facilitators:
Connie Burns, LCMHC & Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri
 2 Certified Continuing Education Units
 Live Video Time:
5-7 hours
Study Time: 4-6 hours
Live Calls Thursdays 7-7:30pm EST
 "The work of the mature person is to hold grief in one hand and gratitude in the other, and to be stretched large by them. How much sorrow can I hold? That’s how much gratitude I can give. If carry only grief, I’ll bend toward cynicism and despair. If I have only gratitude, I’ll become saccharine and won’t develop much compassion for other people’s suffering. Grief keeps the heart fluid and soft, which helps make compassion possible."
-Francis Weller
Course overview
In this 7-week hybrid learning experience, we will explore emotional and spiritual responses to ecological and social challenges. Responses like grief and sorrow, anxiety and fear, guilt and shame, anger, and despair are normal responses in challenging times. This course is designed to offer mutual support, healing, insight, and compassion, but this is not a grief therapy experience. Past participants expressed profound gratitude for being among people who could talk honestly about grief, suffering, and the ecological and social challenges of our time.

The movement of these 7-weeks together will include the following: 

1. Introductions/Orientation
2. Sorrow/Grief
3. Anger
4. Fear/anxiety
5. Shame/Guilt
6. Despair/Hopelessness
7. Integration and wholeness

About Eco-Grief

Eco Grief: Building Resilience and Community began as Ecological Grief Circles and has been developed to support emotional and spiritual care for individuals and within communities and congregations. While it has been created by counselors, chaplains and pastors, it is not designed to be group therapy or a group spiritual direction experience. Mostly we hope to offer space to explore the emotional and spiritual facets of ecological degradation, climate change, social injustice, and COVID-19. Building trust in our group is an important part of our experience, so attending most of the meetings will be helpful. Please plan to join us in the synchronistic portions. The general layout of each meeting will include sharing, brief rituals, poetry/prayer and some light teaching/prompts about healthy ways to explore and engage major emotions.

Course Rhythms

Live Weekly Learning and Sharing 

This 7-week learning experience includes weekly online material as well as Zoom-based spiritual practices and discussions hosted by facilitators .  Zoom calls are 30-minutes every Thursday at 7pm EST.

Asynchronous Engagement 

Learners will have the opportunity to write, read, and practice at home when and where it is most convenient to their particular contexts and hopes.  

Prepare to Support Your Community

This online course is designed to support you in your emotional, social, and spiritual resilience.  Also it is a prerequisite to an upcoming online course on how to facilitate eco grief groups.   

Course Features

Practice Compassion: Explore practices that deepen connection to others, self, and nature.

Each week we will engaged in rituals and practices designed to draw us closer to one another and ourselves. 

Build Community: Explore ways to accompany communities during challenging times.

Elements of our time together can be used in community groups, families, faith communities or justice coalitions.  Adding a leadership training course to this 7-week course will enable you to offer Eco Grief Circles on your own.  

Find Others: People from around the country and world are experiencing complex responses to current crises.

Participants bring perspectives and experiences from around the world as we share during our synchronized space and online discussions. 

Share Stories: Make sacred space for joy and grief.

Reflect and share with others as we listen to the stories, ideas, hopes and challenges one another . 

Course Lessons

course feedback

What People Are Saying

"So many of my friends and family are very aware of the climate crisis and all of its threats to the ecosphere, but we need to discover ways to acknowledge what is happening, grieve it appropriately, and find meaningful ways to take action. I can be a catalyst in that regards above and beyond my personal efforts at green living and my political activism."
Eco Grief Circle Participant 2023 
"My awareness of the subtle (difficult) emotions has grown and I have expanded my ability to allow those emotions to move though."
Eco Grief Circle Participant 2023
"I loved the connection with like hearted environment loving people and the ability to be real and vulnerable with whatever came up for each of us. The format was wonderful, easing us in with the opening ritual to the teaching and meditation which set a beautiful tone for the small group experience."
Eco Grief Circle Participant 2020

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to participate in all the Live Zoom Experiences? 

The live online gatherings are the heart of this course. Our small group practices, discussions and listening together helps drawn connection, inspire hope and deepen self awareness.  While it is important to be present if possible, it is understandable if you need to miss a week-life happens! 

Will any assignments be "graded"?  

We may provide some acknowledgement of your written work or reflections but nothing will be graded.  There will be self asessment and awareness practices.

I just lost a loved one, is this an appropriate place to engage in personal grief work? 

While we will be conversation about grief in general we will approach many of our practices with climate change, social injustice and health concerns in mind. We highly recommend therapy, grief groups and spiritual direction in addition to our work together.  

Who can I expect to meet in this course?

 Our small group experiences are an essential part of this course. You can expect to be with a wide variety of other people who are experiencing grief about the climate crisis and other global issues. In past courses we have had environmentalists and activists as well as people whose major work is in other areas, but who want support around their grief. 
Meet the instructors

Connie Burns, MA, LCMHC 

Connie has been practicing psychotherapy for many years, with a focus on body-centered work and emotional release. She believes in healing and resilience. She is passionate about hiking, gardening, and learning to listen to, care for, and respect the natural world. 

Rev. Scott Hardin-Nieri

Scott is a partner, dad, spiritual director, pastor, and sojourner. He is working with people and communities that are loving one another, their neighbors and creation as the Director/Minister of Bethany Congregations, a ministry of the Bethany Fellows, and Co-Minister of Green Chalice of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), received a Diploma in the Art of Spiritual Direction and Master of Divinity at San Francisco Theological Seminary. He seeks to build stories of resilience through intentional gratitude, honored grief, wise discernment, and embodied action. 
Patrick Jones - Course author
Patrick Jones - Course author