Congratulations to the prizewinners in the 2018 Grieve writing competition.
The National Association of Loss and Grief (NALAG) Award
Blood and bone by Justine Hyde
The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement Award
Not Horses, or Mothers by Lisa Jacobson
The Australian Funeral Directors Association Award
Time by Alyssa Sterry
The National Association of Loss and Grief (NALAG) 2nd Award
A Day in October by Kim Waters
The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement 2nd Award
One Word by Rob Selzer
The Australian Funeral Directors Association 2nd Award
Would haves by Naomi Deneve
The Skeleton by Nicole Melanson
Palliative Care Australia Award
The Line Our Thread by Cynthia Troup
White Lady Funerals Award
Heartbeat by Emily Usher
Good Grief Award — for a work about grief or loss other than death
This big bright land by Simone King
All About Grief Award — for a work about grief or loss after the death of a child
The day after coming home from hospital by Claire Watson
David Lloyd Funerals Award (Newcastle and Hunter Valley)
Hot and Cold by Belinda Oliver
Suicide Prevention Australia Award
What About Me? by Samantha Noble
Simplicity Funerals Award
Tough Love by Barbara Hunt
White Lady Funerals (Mayfield, NSW) Award
Let Me Introduce You by Vanessa Farrer
The Compassionate Friends Award
The little ones by Christine Kearney
The Calvary Mater Hospital Pastoral Care Award
I Have the Weight of a Life that is Substantive and Real on my Shoulders by Sook Samsara
The Blue Knot Foundation Award
Hashtag by Karenlee Thompson
Knitting, Endings and Grieving by Anne Boyd
Hunter New England Health, Mental Health Services Award
A Hard Won Spring by Tahra Baulch
Hunter Writers Centre Award
Sometimes, Love Isn’t Enough by Louisa Simmonds
Hunter Writers Centre Members’ Award
There are days by Penny Lane
Highly Commended Awards
Black News by Anthony Levin
Fells by Philip Radmall
Lost by Jacqueline Damen
|Title||First Name||Family Name|
|A black point||Niko||Campbell-Ellis|
|A Day in October||Kim||Waters|
|A hard won Spring||Tahra||Baulch|
|A Japanese Airman Forewarns His Wife||Brett||Dionysius|
|A Love Letter to My Incarcerated Sister||Trixi||Rosa|
|A tea-rose for Frieda||Louise||Wakeling|
|Blood and bone||Justine||Hyde|
|Circumference of desire||Jenny||Pollak|
|Debt for Life||Barbara||Rosie|
|Everything I need to know||Susan||Bradley Smith|
|Farewell to Billy Duluth||Lesley||Carnus|
|Grieving is Overrated||Mark||Bromhead|
|Hot and Cold||Belinda||Oliver|
|How it is||Alison||Flett|
|I have the weight of a life that is substantive and real on my shoulders||Sook||Samsara|
|I wish I knew||Helen Angela||Taylor|
|In black and white||Ian||Wicks|
|In the Quiet Moments||Emma||Pasinati|
|KNITTING, ENDINGS and GRIEVING||Anne||Boyd|
|Let it not be this||Jennifer||Chen|
|Let Me Introduce You||Vanessa||Farrer|
|Looking for Clark Gable||Alexandra||Geneve|
|Memoria in aeterna||Sandie||Walker|
|My Dear Son||Michelle||Wong|
|No one is ever really gone.||Tim||Hardy|
|Not Crying, Dancing||Linda||Stevenson|
|Not Horses, or Mothers||Lisa||Jacobson|
|Not long, my darling||Audrey||Molloy|
|On My Mum’s Passing||Belinda||Paxton|
|On the hottest midwinter day on record||Peter||Lach-Newinsky|
|One Lump or Two||Billie||Ruth|
|Scenes from a Hospital||Kate||Ryan|
|Skin and Bone||Melissa||Manning|
|Some time later||PS||Cottier|
|Sometimes, Love Isn’t Enough||Louisa||Simmonds|
|Stuff going on while I’m paying rent||Glenn||Aljatreux|
|The day after coming home from hospital||Claire||Watson|
|The Hobs of Drought||Jan||Iwaszkiewicz|
|The lactic acid in the calves of your despair||Ali||Whitelock|
|The Line Our Thread||Cynthia||Troup|
|The little ones||Christine||Kearney|
|The Stone Jar||Chris||Lynch|
|There are days||Penny||Lane|
|This big bright land||Simone||King|
|Three Unbearable Things||Helen||Richardson|
|Time for Grief||Seetha||Nambiar Dodd|
|Vincero, I will overcome||Merran||Hughes|
|What About Me?||Samantha||Noble|
|Where has my family gone?||Michael||Cole|
|Why I can’t talk||Eleni||Hale|
|Words out my mouth||Kathryn||Lyster|
Within Blue Knot Foundation, the national Australian organisation which supports adults who have experienced all sorts of trauma, abuse and violence in childhood grief and loss is never far from the surface.
Whether it is loss of childhood, of innocence, of meaning, of family or of possibility, Blue Knot works to help those affected to feel safe, rebuild trust and find a path to hope and healing. It is not about simply getting over it and getting on with it but it is about the support of others – listening, hearing and being there with and for one another. It’s about being human and sharing the vulnerabilities and sensitivities we all experience, at different times in our lives.
My experience is that grief takes as long as it takes. Each and every person has their own experience, their own way of trying to deal with it, of processing their loss and an intensity of emotion, which at times, feels unrelenting and infinite. Yet as an organisation we daily witness the resilience of the human spirit, buoyed through connection and community, over time.
Helping to judge some of the entries to the Grieve writing competition has been profoundly moving and humbling. The experiences of grief and loss, so deeply personal have presented works of raw honesty and lyrical imagery, metaphor and narrative rarely shared.
To find out more about Blue Knot Foundation visit www.blueknot.org.au
Sometimes writing about the loss of a close family member can feel too hard because the enormity of all you have lost might stop you even starting. You may feel that in trying to describe it all you lose the sense of the person. What about writing about one aspect of the person? Start with a small physical characteristic or a small feature you loved about him or her – their smile, the way he sat to read, chat, write; the way she dressed or cooked or performed a regular chore. Below, Maree Reedman writes (in Grieve Volume 5) about hands as a recurring image which creates a clear and intimate portrait of her father. Enter your poem or story/essay into the Grieve writing competition.
He holds her hands and gazes at the wrinkled skin. So soft now. These hands haven’t seen work in a long time. They are smooth and soft. Not like a baby’s hand. All round and plump and strong and grasping and reaching out for new things . . . reaching out for life.
These hands are still. They are lined and wasted and weak. There is no purpose in their life. They don’t cook or iron or clean or garden. They don’t hug or touch or comfort.
That all stopped long ago.
It stopped when her “confusions” started to appear, spreading its tentacles and stilling her hands. It forced the memories of her life into little recesses which could only be reached occasionally. In time, it pushed them further and further back. At first, it was every month when the memories couldn’t be found. Then, every week. And then, every day. It left a huge black hole, where once a life full of love and laughter had been.
He turns her hand over. There is no resistance, no feeling, no recognition of his presence.
He strokes the hand that is so familiar and that he remembers so well. And he basks in the memories that these hands remind him of. His memories. Their shared memories. He visits this empty shell of a person every week. He listens to the silence. He doesn’t say much. She was always such a talker. “Have a chat” was her nick name.
He grasps her hands and his memories of her. And he looks into the eyes of his mother. There is no one there.
The Grieve writing competition accepts stories and poems on any topic related to loss: loss of a job, loss of a home, mobility, a pet.
Yes, death is a common theme in the stories and poems that are selected to be published in the Grieve anthologies, but the judges are also looking for stories and poems about loss that are not always recognised in society because grief can accompany any significant change or shift in our lives.
Doris Zagdanksi has been one of the Grieve judges for 3 years. Doris believes the Grieve project allows people to “tell it like it is.” From Doris:
In my 20s, I lost an infant daughter to SIDS. It was a terrible time in my life especially because I was so young. I knew nothing about grief. Nobody in my family had died, it was such a struggle to know how to cope, to know what to do. I worked it out after a few years searching for information. And I found it really helpful to start writing. I found the experience of writing to be cathartic, a way to express feelings that I couldn’t discuss with friends or family.
People need to know there is no “right” or “wrong” way to feel when coping with the death of someone they love. When people read somebody else’s story, they think ‘I’ve been there too’.
Visit Doris Zagdanski’s website All About Grief
The Grieve writing competition opens every year on Valentine’s Day – you know the measure of your love by the weight of your loss.
Grief is the human response to change and loss in our lives, such as the death of someone we love. It is a natural and normal response, which has a physical impact on our bodies as well affecting our emotions and our thinking. This statement is from Good Grief, an Australian organisation that awards a $250 prize in the annual Grieve writing competition.
One of the programs that Good Grief delivers is the Seasons for Growth program to children and young people who experience significant life changes. The aim is to normalise the experience of grief like giving them clear, factual, age-appropriate information about the loss they have experienced; help build protective factors and minimise risk factors that affect mental health.
If you are interested in facilitating the Seasons for Growth program you must be an accredited companion which involves a 2 day training program – learn more about the training program on the Good Grief website.
Such beautiful poems and stories were entered into the 2017 Grieve Writing Competition. Over 100 captivating, brave and compelling works by Australians were chosen to be published in the anthology Volume 5. Buy the anthology either in ebook or printed book form here
Congratulations to the 2017 prizewinners:
Rachael Mead Powerless
Joel McKerrow On Saying Goodbye
Ky Garvey Deep Breaths and Heartbeats
Janet Holmes Carpet Beetles
Fiona Murphy Our Small Kingdom
Kathryn R Bennett Numbers
Josh Wildie When One Door Closes
Kaylia Payne I Miss You, Kid
Laura Jan Shore First Anniversary
Kathy Childs The Man in the Mirror
Ellen Shelley Failed to Provide
Vicki Laveau-Harvie Seasons of Grief
Undine Kanowski Okay
Cheryl Parker My Truth
Melanie Zolenas-Kennedy Scraps
Donni Hakanson The Ghost of A Mother
Edwina Shaw Thirty Years Gone
Sarah Bourne The Sounds of You
Gail Hennessey Message to My Mother
Kathryn Fry There She Is, My Mother