The ecology of grief article summary

The ecology of grief article summary

Article Summary

Article Title: Windle, Phyllis. “The ecology of grief.” BioScience 42.5 (1992): 363-366.

Purpose and Objectives

Phyllis’s article on Ecology of grief argues that just like how we human beings place meaning to our griefing when we lose a loved one, it is the same attachment that ecologists have to nature and so is the grieving when that nature is lost. She explains her views through a columnist story of a deadly fungal disease (dogwood) that almost wiped out all tree species in New England in the late 1970s, botanist students at the time had their different versions of mourning while most just held on to the memories and commemorated on the dying trees. Research by veterinaries further shows the similarities that exist between grieving for family or even a friend and grieving that comes with the loss of a pet by the owner to whom it was attached. Although literature acknowledges mourning in human death, grief should also be seen in regards to anything lost including jobs. Therefore, mourning has difficult phases that a grieving person naturally will have to go through to accept the loss and face reality. Among them would include the feeling of anger, sadness, despair, and depression which are all of importance for one to recover.


The love ecologists have for nature goes beyond having a regular job. As much as ecologists express their attachment to nature as that which satisfies needs that people don’t, they also do not deny that factors such as economic, political and social contributes to their deep-rooted and complicated attachment which is undisputed in my opinion. It is for these reasons that they are critiqued as having more affection to animals than to people. They however, have to defend their stand in the best way they know which is fighting for their passions toward the natural world which the same people greatly take pride in.

Ecologists know the part of nature (species) that is gone as well as of that which still exists, this reality of the system haunts and also gives them the drive to make changes in the future. As an ecologist, Phyllis argues that grieving for ecologists would be the best solution in such situations; however, their environment does not allow it. They mostly luck the social support to grieve especially around colleagues. The ambiguity of how things happened and fear of what is to follow makes it even harder to grieve hence, working on all the disbelief and the uncertainties first would preferably provide a way of starting the grieving period. Lastly, just as people have their rituals (funerals) to mourning and recovering from all the grief for their loss of loved ones, so is the suggestion given to ecologists to have their rituals or “funerals” for all the species and places being lost. This is because the environmental losses are chronic and unsteady, one that has no definite beginning or end. To avoid chronic grieving, ecologists are advised to have a grief work that helps them deal with their fears that way they will not miss opportunities that prepares them to inevitable changes to come.


In my opinion, I do agree with the article that grieving should not only be seen from human loss perspective but also that which that comes with environmental loss. The grieving however should not be an ecologists moment but also for all that are directly or indirectly affected, that way awareness is created and the same is prevented by the whole in the future.



Work cited

Windle, Phyllis. “The ecology of grief.” BioScience 42.5 (1992): 363-366.