You know you’re a writer at heart when your subconscious response to death is to immortalize your lost loved one in a story. Especially when you haven’t written substantially or consistently for more than seven months.

It’s during these times of great strife and grief that you realize – writing isn’t just the passion to put something entertaining on paper, though that’s rewarding too. It isn’t just a need to express yourself, though that’s usually what it is when everything is okay. Writing is a coping mechanism. Writing is how we deal with things that would otherwise crush us.

Several months ago, one of my old writing professors committed suicide. His loss is nothing compared to the one I’m struggling with now. At his memorial service though I reconnected with an old friend, and we talked about how neither of us really knew he was struggling so much.

“Well, there was one big indication,” she said to me. “He was a writer. We don’t come to that because we’re happy.”

I didn’t understand how right she was until now.

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