Ecological grief as a response to environmental change. A mental health risk or functional response?

Hannah Comtesse, Verena Ertl, Sophie M.C. Hengst, Rita Rosner, Geert E. Smid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademic


The perception of the impact of climate change on the environment is becoming a lived experience for more and more people. Several new terms for climate change-induced distress have been introduced to describe the long-term emotional consequences of anticipated or actual environmental changes, with ecological grief as a prime example. The mourning of the loss of ecosystems, landscapes, species and ways of life is likely to become a more frequent experience around the world. However, there is a lack of conceptual clarity and systematic research efforts with regard to such ecological grief. This perspective article introduces the concept of ecological grief and contextualizes it within the field of bereavement. We provide a case description of a mountaineer in Central Europe dealing with ecological grief. We introduce ways by which ecological grief may pose a mental health risk and/or motivate environmental behavior and delineate aspects by which it can be differentiated from related concepts of solastalgia and eco-anxiety. In conclusion, we offer a systematic agenda for future research that is embedded in the context of disaster mental health and bereavement research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2021


  • Adaptation
  • Climate change threats
  • Climate grief
  • Eco-anxiety
  • Ecological grief
  • Environmental change
  • Environmental grief
  • Mental health
  • Risk factor
  • Solastalgia

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