Extremely distressing; agonizing: a harrowing experience. (adjective)
American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Use "harrowing" in a sentence
"The stories that follow recall in harrowing detail some very specific moments that will live in infamy."
"The batteries in the gameboy thing was so convoluted -- I'm playing with my daughter's gameboy (why??) but it's out of batteries (huh?) but I have some extra in my car (who does that??) so can you come help me put them in (how harrowing is replacing batteries? even a dumb kid would wonder why an adult with functioning hands would need help for this)."
"A future presidential candidate might have participated in harrowing door-to-door sweeps during the bloody fight for Fallujah last month."