Writing about family members seems to come naturally, but many family history and memory writers struggle with how to write about a friend.
Before we look at the how, let’s look at why it’s more than appropriate to write about a friend in your memory stories Don’t worry, you’ll see that the why and the how are related.
Why you should write about a friend
Family members are not the only ones who play a starring role in memories. There are times—when family is far away, when the nest is empty, or when family is gone—that good friends fill the gaps.
We all know that friends can become as close as family members. Many of us have friends that have stood by us throughout the years, sharing good times, bringing meals, and mopping up tears in times of sorrow. They are fixtures in our lives. Many are responsible for our emotional and spiritual well-being.
My grandmother wrote a loving poem in honor of her friend Ellen, which she called “Ellen of Virginia.” Much of her poem had to do with how heartbreaking it would be if her friend Ellen ever left Virginia.
For my mother, also named Ellen, this was a very moving piece. She had always harbored doubts about leaving her home state of Virginia and living so far from her parents. My mom was gratified to know that when she wasn’t able to be with her mother, a dear friend was.
Writing About a Friend Tells about You
When you write about a friend and your feeling for that person, it gives loved ones insight into your development, regardless of whether it was a childhood or adult friendship. You don’t need to write about every friend you have, but consider writing about those friendship experiences that have helped mold you.
Beth, in the center of the photo above, isn’t my biological sister, but note that we had matching night-gowns. As my sister’s best friend, she was like a second older sister to me.
Write about a Friend to Deepen Connections
Another reason to write about a friend: Our loved ones tend to love the people who we love. They can develop an affection for a near stranger, based only on that person’s relationship to you.
For example, my mother had a friend named Nancy Green. I’ve never met Nancy, but I have a deep fondness for her. This grows not only out of the fact that they shared a childhood, but also from their shared passion for art and the fact that they managed to stay close for five decades.
Likewise, I have strong connections to some of the youth for whom my mother advocated as a child protection worker. I never knew their names, but, because my mom cared so deeply about them, I think about them from time to time and pray that they have found their paths to happiness.
Not a Competition
Before you start deliberating about which friend is “best,” realize that this is not a competition or ranking. It’s simply your feelings about someone and they role they play or have played in your life. You can write about one special friendship or many. You can also write about the people that helped you through a particular circumstance or transition.
For instance, college friends occupy a different space in your heart than the people that helped you settle in a new place, raised kids with yours, or your office mate. Depending on the story you’re telling, different characters will play a pivotal role.
How to Write About a Friend
Try writing down your memories of and reflections on a dear friend.
• Physical attributes
• Personality attributes
• How you met
• Bonds that you shared
• Why you treasure your friend
It can rhyme, be in simple prose, or an essay. The point is to convey some sense of this person to those who do (or did) not know him/her well.
Want to read an example of a writing about a dear friend? Read Laura of Laurens.