Our spotlight this week is on Lisa Reit, writer for Give Grief a Voice and guest blogger. Her stories are the inspiration for the paintings many families receive. To listen, to really hear, and to write the stories of these difficult journeys is truly a gift. Thank you, Lisa. Here, Lisa describes her experience writing for the project:
Child loss is a taboo topic in our society that can teach us how to mourn, grieve, and confront the reality of death. The stakes are high – it is literally life and death we’re talking about. These stories force us to consider what we really believe and can inform the way we live. I just don’t know of a lot of other projects out there like Give Grief a Voice. It is completely unique and incredibly powerful.
This project has forced me to think about voice – one of the essential tools in a writer’s toolbox. I write the stories from the perspective of the mothers and fathers I interview. It isn’t easy and it can be very emotional. Instead of writing Her daughter died, I write My daughter died. And I have two daughters. So, it becomes very personal. I have to remove myself and my own emotions out of the story and let the mothers and fathers speak for themselves. I take the job very seriously because I know stories have the power to change lives.
As a writer, I can write about anything I want. There is great freedom in that. But I also believe each of us has a responsibility to use our talents to help make the world a better place. This project allows my talent to meet a need in the world, and that is why I take such pride in the work, and why I am so grateful to be involved with the Give Grief a Voice project.
I do think it’s important for people to understand that I get paid to write these stories. We live in a society that recognizes artists as talented but isn’t always willing to pay for that talent. Someone might look at a story or a painting and think, well, I could probably do that, too. But making art that doesn’t draw attention to itself – which is what the artists in this project are tasked with doing – is very difficult. The Give Grief a Voice board knows that. Just as the board might hire a chef or an accountant, they recognize the need to pay for a skill they themselves do not have. Any donation to the Give Grief a Voice project is not only a donation to families who have experienced loss, but to the Arts.
The Give Grief a Voice project sets out to bust outdated and unhelpful taboos. The project says: Child loss needs to be discussed and artists deserve to be paid. I’m proud to be a part of the uprising.