When I ask my freshmen to write a descriptive essay about a significant event in their lives, they inevitably write about the loss of a grandparent, or worse, a friend. Many of these stories start the same way: a phone call, someone sick in bed, a funeral, a burial. As raw as the pain is for these students, sometimes I must tell them that their story is not working the way they intended.

Here’s the thing about grief. It’s an intensely personal experience that may not fully translate to the written page. It is one thing to tell others our pain. It is another to show it in such a way that they grieve alongside us.

In the last ten years, two of my close friends died unexpectedly. Both were in their prime. Although they died about seven years apart, the first loss did not prepare me for the second one. Both deaths were raw wounds that took years to process, and they did not fully heal. As part of my grieving, I’ve written about these friends, which has helped me make sense of their passing and find a measure of peace.