“I have been present with many people in sorrow-filled times, encouraging them to express their grief in the hope of healing,” says Trudy Hanson, Grief Counsellor at the National Association for Loss and Grief (NALAG). “Words do help, especially written in the form of stories.”
This understanding of the fact that ‘words help’ is at the heart of “Grieve”, an initiative of the Hunter Writers Centre. Three years ago, writers from all over Australia were invited to enter a competition that asked them simply to write about loss. While death might seem the most obvious form of loss, topics covered in past “Grieve” projects include trying to understand suicide, loss of mobility, loss of a baby and loss of a hoped-for future. Research psychologists have found that writing about traumatic events is therapeutic.
For the second time, Coordinator of Seasons for Growth in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, Benita Tait, will be one of the judges for “Grieve”. Reflecting on her previous judging experiences, Benita said, “It’s been a real privilege to be involved in “Grieve”. People have said to me how confronting it must be, but actually, it’s quite an uplifting thing to do. The writers have clearly invested so much time and thought into their pieces, and hopefully the writing itself has been therapeutic for them.
“I’m looking forward to immersing myself in this year’s crop of entries, and encourage anyone who’s thinking about it to give it a go!”
“In the 2013 and 2014 competitions we received entries from around Australia and from all walks of life,” says Karen Crofts, Director of the Hunter Writers Centre. “It shows how deeply this project resonates and also underlines the importance of not keeping grief locked up.”
The Grieve Writing Project is open until the end of June. Selected works will be chosen for live reading during Grief Awareness month in August and awards will be presented. All selected works are published in an annual anthology.
Partners in the Grieve Writing Project include the National Association of Loss and Grief, The Australian Funeral Directors Association, Hunter New England Health, Calvary Mater Hospital Pastoral Care and Palliative Care Department, Good Grief – Seasons for Growth program and Maclean's Booksellers, Hamilton.