Whenever people suffer a loss they go through a grief process. When we think of grief, we usually think about the loss of a loved one or perhaps the end of a relationship but the grief process can also occur after a major catastrophe like a hurricane or flood and even the loss of an automobile. People naturally employ a variety of psychological mechanisms to cushion the shock of some major loss so that it is more bearable.
Psychologists have identified five stages of the grief process that we go through. Not everyone will go through all stages and the progression is not always linear; sometimes people might jump between denial and anger. But these are all states of mind that we go through as we come to terms with something difficult.
"Global Warming is a Hoax", "We'll never run out of oil". Also a form of denial is a refusal to even consider the subjects of peak oil and climate change. Denial is usually only a temporary stage and lasts until the person becomes more aware of what is going on.
Once people become aware of the issues and realize that they can no longer remain in denial, they typically go through an angry phase. They may lash out at various government or corporate entities and assign blame to others for the predicament we're in.
Psychologically people realize that the fossil fuel era is ending and they will have to deal with it, but bargain for more time. "We can get another 30 years of the status quo if we do X,Y and Z". Sometimes magical thinking can be involved such as "we can invent an engine that runs on air".
Once the Great Transition is accepted as inevitable, people have a tendency to go into depression. Depression does not necessarily have to be manifested as sadness...sometimes people in this phase isolate, get lethargic, and believe there is no hope so why bother trying.
Most of us eventually come to terms with the reality of peak oil and climate change when we realize that there is hope and that there is something that we can do. They have a sense of "it's going to be ok, I can deal with it". When acceptance is obtained, people leave their depression and become more active in their own personal lifestyle adjustments.
Using the Stages of Grief
Understanding the stages of grief helps us to see that grief is a process, that it is normal and natural, and that it will eventually end. We try not to rush the grief process because it is necessary for us to adjust psychologically. At the same time, we need to be wary of getting stuck in one of the first four stages.
When dealing with others, we might recognize where they are in the process and want to help them get out of that stage and into acceptance, however it is better if we let them go through the stages at their own pace. We might want to share some of our own experiences going through the grief process so that they understand that this is a normal process and that other people go through it too.