A collective storytelling project gathering the experiences of nurses on the frontline of care during the Covid19 pandemic.
If you are a nurse who has provided care during the Covid19 pandemic, this post is for you. Thank you for considering sharing your story with me. If you think your story is not worthy enough, that someone else has a better perspective to offer, I can assure you that your story matters. Every story is part of the puzzle. I hope to attract a demographically and geographically diverse group of participants who have served in a variety of frontline capacities, from ER to ICU to floor nurses to hospice, to any other front-line patient care roles. I welcome all perspectives.
My purpose is to bear witness to nurses’ experiences through a project that is part documentary, part art. In one-on-one conversations, I will receive whatever you wish to share with me about what you have seen, heard, and felt as you have served patients and their families during the pandemic. Once interviews are complete, I will weave your individual stories, in your own voices and words, into one, collective narrative. The result will be a short film that I hope will open the hearts and minds of viewers to your experiences.
Reading news accounts throughout the pandemic about the harsh realities faced by those of you on the frontline of patient care and hearing stories from friends who are hospital chaplains about your bedside vigils with patients, I have been moved by the challenges endured by nurses on all our behalf and struck by how sheltered I have felt as I have been safely sequestered at home. By pairing your voices and words with images, sounds, and music, I would like to create a record of your experiences that honors the physical, emotional, and spiritual toll of your work and helps those who have not had your first-hand experiences to feel the weight and depth of them more fully than the written word alone can accomplish.
To listen to a witness is to become one.
I will share the final project on my website and social media channels in hopes of shining light on the realities of providing care during circumstances of limited resources, rapidly changing knowledge of the virus, physical distancing, risks of infection, juggling personal life with work demands, and overwhelming patient needs, as well as circumstances I have not imagined and will only learn about through you. I hope the film will underscore the vital role you, as nurses, play in general in the healthcare system, as well as the added weight that has fallen on your shoulders during the pandemic.
My promise to those of you who participate is that I will listen deeply and will treat your story and your time with the utmost respect. Author and physician Rachel Naomi Remen has written that listening with attention⏤and I would add intention, as well⏤offers an opportunity for wholeness and healing. I believe that opportunity extends both ways in a converstion, to the listener and the teller. Through the film I hope to give viewers a sense of becoming your listeners and witnesses themselves.
Listening is the oldest and perhaps the most powerful tool of healing…When we listen, we offer with our attention an opportunity for wholeness.
⏤Rachel Naomi Remen
I will strive to reflect what you share with me accurately and will offer all participants an opportunity to review the film before publication to make sure my use of your words feels true to you. If you have any objections, I will respect your wishes and remove your words from the film. You can remain anonymous or be named in the closing credits of the film, whatever is most comfortable for you. But in either case, when your words are voiced in the film, your name will not be on screen identifying you. I do not intend to use images of any participants in the film, but rather to illustrate your words with photographs that evoke the sentiments you express. I do not plan to use names of organizations or even cities where you work. The idea is for your stories to stand in for those of the many nurses I will not be able to talk to, so my focus will be on extracting the heart of the experience you narrate to me, not the particulars of identities of you, your patients, or your organizations. I will lay all this out in a consent agreement that we both will sign so that you have assurances about my intentions and I have clarity about your wishes.
To be able to use your voice in the film soundtrack, I would like permission to record just the audio from our conversation, but if you are hesitant to be recorded, please don’t let that stop you from participating. I can find ways to weave written words into the visual story, as well.
I hope to have twenty-five participants in this project so that individual voices can be melded into a collective voice without any one person feeling unduly exposed. My goal is to reflect every voice in the video in some fashion. I expect that themes might emerge in the stories. If so, I may have several different voices speaking parts of the same theme, with only a few words from each speaker. In other words, I won’t know until I have all the stories in front of me how much or how little of the audio of each interview will be in the final film, but the entirety of every story I receive will help shape what is in the final project.
I know that entrusting your story to me is a leap of faith on your part and I do not take that lightly. You can read more about me here on my website and see examples of work I have produced to have a sense of who I am and whether you would feel comfortable talking with me. For an example of my work that comes closest to the feeling I envision for this project, please see my film called Pilgrimage. It is not a collective story, nor does it use spoken narrative, but it is in the same vein in which I will approach this story.
I am undertaking this service project as part of my participation in a year-long program on Socially Engaged Buddhism through Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I will be working on the film production aspect of it as part of a Master of Fine Arts degree I am pursuing at California Institute of Integral Studies.
Share Your Story
If you have questions about the project or are ready to share your story, please email me at:
I am conducting interviews via Zoom or telephone from May through October, 2021. I may extend this timeline because of the significant demands being placed on nurses by the Delta variant surge. My hope is to have twenty-five participants. Conversations can last up to an hour and fifteen minutes, but can be as short as twenty minutes if you prefer. Thank you for considering participation.