A STORY OF NURSES AND THE PANDEMIC
An immersive, audio-driven, documentary that tells the stories of nurses providing care to Covid19 patients at the beginning of the pandemic
In May of 2021, I invited nurses who were providing care on the frontlines of the pandemic to share their stories with me. It was a big request, and I knew it. Though the pandemic had been underway for over a year, many had not begun to process all they had experienced.
From May through September, I recorded ten hours of stories from the nurses who agreed to participate. They worked in the ER, ICU, and Covid units of hospitals in a variety of states in the U.S. This film bears witness to the experiences they shared with me.
The voices of the nurses themselves narrate the story. The visuals are intended to support the viewer in listening deeply and engaging with the emotions of the experiences, rather than illustrate them literally with images of hospital rooms, masks, and ventilators that have become all-too-prevalent in our news streams.
I created this project as a service offering for a year-long program I participated in through Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The support of my collegial cohort led by Roshi Joan Halifax was steadfast as I sought to figure out my path into story as an act of bearing witness to suffering.
Through my MFA studies at California Institute of Integral Studies, I had opportunities to workshop the film as it was in progress and benefitted greatly from the insights of my fellow students, artists in an array of different disciplines. Crafting the visuals for the film was my greatest challenge, and I am especially indebted to the visual artists in the group who helped me learn their ways of seeing their art and coached me in applying those principles to mine.
I send my profound gratitude to all who helped me along the way, most especially to the nurses who entrusted their stories to me.
NOTES from Nurses
“The moments – bitter and sweet – that will stick with us forever, you rounded them all up into 25 minutes. The imagery was perfect as well and complemented the shifting emotional landscape of the words. So grateful.”
“This is beautiful. Thank you for giving us this voice.”
“Powerful. Beautiful. Raw. Honest. Tragic. Truth.”
“Thank you for sending this finished piece to us. I honestly could not get through the entire video due to the painful memories associated. We are all still healing. But from what I could listen to, you did an excellent job of blending together our stories as a collective. I felt connected to my colleagues in the way you shaped the narrative, knowing I was not alone in this experience.”
To read more about my process in creating this film, see my article in the March, 2022 member newsletter for the Minnesota Coalition on Death Education and Support (MCDES): Bearing Witness: A Collective Story about Nurses in the Pandemic.