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Archived CEI

Death and Dying

Death and Dying: Grief and Climate Change


Start date: March 16, 2020

Duration: 4 weeks (includes two one-hour interactive sessions online. Each, available in two different time slots for participants in different parts of the world.)

Cost: $30 US

Registration: --


About the course

We face an uncertain future, and it is time for humanity to come together and use its collective skills, knowledge, and heart. In this course, we explore grief from the massive losses suffered and yet to come from climate change, using concepts and key terms from the study of death and dying.

The work of grief and mourning is a healing work. When we lose a member of the human family, we enact rituals that acknowledge our loss and help us return to life without the deceased. These communal acts are a means to heal through acceptance, love, and support.   

But in this time of crisis, we hardly have names for what is happening, let alone strategies to cope with it. We will explore grief, hope, and compassion in the face of ongoing destruction of species and habitats, and discover collective ways to support healing for ourselves, for mother earth, and for all of life.

The course will include two virtual sessions. Each session will be held twice, once in each of two time zones, to accommodate participants in different parts of the world.


Supported UN Sustainable Development Goals: 3, 13, 14, 15 

Those interested in this course may enjoy a new Blog, "Engaging from the Heart of Happiness" by Nnaumrata Arora Singh.


Course outline

Lesson 1: Death, Dying, and the Climate Crisis

We will apply concepts and key terms from the study of death and dying to increase our understanding of death in the context of climate change, and begin to look at grief in this context.

1a. What is the Meaning of Death?

1b. Death Isn't the End, Or Is It?

1c. Recognizing Death: Nature's Trajectory

1d. Death and Denial: First Stage of Grief


Lesson 2:  Grief Traits

We will look at the characteristics of grief and its source in love and connection, and begin to explore the meaning of extraordinary loss.  

2a. No Grief Without Love

2b. Rupture in the Fabric

2c. The Sky is Falling

2d. Loving Nature

2e. Class in Real time


Lesson 3: Coping with Grief and Loss

We explore the complications of grief amid climate change and predictions of mass extinction, and explore methods of coping.

3a. It’s complicated

3b. Love, Laugh, Make Love: Coping During Climate Crisis

3c. Lessons from Tragedy

3d. Mourning and Renewal


Lesson 4: Compassion and Hope

Compassion and hope are essential to moving forward in a positive way. We look at love as active, and discover positive steps forward through networking, collective healing rituals, and political activism.

4a. Increasing Joy

4b. Healing Through Ritual

4c. Global Networking; Global Change

4d. Love, Hope, and Activism

4e. Class in Real Time


Course Instructor: Susan de Gaia, Ph.D.

Susan earned her Ph.D. in Religion and Social Ethics at the University of Southern California. She has designed and taught courses for California State University, including Science and Conscience, Religion and Society, Comparative Religions, Writing, and Literature. She is editor of the Encyclopedia of Women in World Religions: Faith and Culture Across History (ABC-CLIO 2018/19).

Susan currently serves as adjunct instructor at Central Michigan University, where she has taught Death and Dying online for the last six years. Students have often commented on this course as an exemplary and life-changing experience.

Susan also serves as an ambassador to the Charter for Compassion Environment Sector and facilitates courses in Compassionate Integrity Training.



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