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I Wish There Were...

illustration of a woman sitting on a bench under dark clouds
Victo Ngai
By Leslie Pietrzyk
Lecturer in Johns Hopkins’ MA in Writing Program
I Wish There Were...
a way for people mourning a loss and having a difficult day to signal to the rest of the world that they are suffering.

In 1997, novelist Leslie Pietrzyk lost her husband, Robb. He was 37 years old when he died suddenly from a heart attack. In the aftermath, Pietrzyk sought ways to process her loss, but found that the pain didn’t fit neatly into the expected stages-of-grief timeline. “It’s difficult for our culture to acknowledge that sadness continues to exist,” Pietrzyk says. “But imagine if you could wear  something that said you were in mourning if you needed to. There were days when if I’d had a little armband, I would have put it on so people would understand that I was struggling.” Pietrzyk has since remarried, and she has written about the nature of grieving. This Angel on My Chest is her collection of unconventionally linked stories, each about a different young woman whose husband dies suddenly and unexpectedly. Winner of the 2015 Drue Heinz Literature Prize, it is due out this October from the University of Pittsburgh Press.