In Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair Anne Lamott writes, “I’d given talks for years about how when it comes to grieving, the culture lies — you really do not get over the biggest losses, you don’t pass through grief in any organized way, and it takes years and infinitely more tears than people want to allot you. Yet the gift of grief is incalculable, in giving you back to yourself.”
I love Lamott’s words because they are so affirming and feel so true. After my step-dad, Mahlon, died I didn’t pass through grief in an organized way. I will never stop missing him and I’ve definitely shed many tears over the last few years. It’s still hard for me to believe he’s gone, and it’s even harder to believe it’s been two years since Mahlon died.
After Mahlon’s first stroke in January of 2012 — and since then — I’ve written about him in many journal entries. The entries included childhood memories, funny things he used to say, and I also processed my feelings of grief by putting pen to paper. I kept my old journals because I was attached to the emotion the entries carried. In a weird way, I felt like Mahlon was a part of those pages.
For the last few months, I’ve slowly read through my old journals. I looked for themes I wanted to write about in more depth and transcribed entries onto my computer. A few days ago, I decided to shred those journals. The journal shredding process was cathartic and it made me feel good. Journaling — and taking my daily photo — has been incredibly healing. However, I know when it’s time to let go of the stuff that is weighing me down.
Hanging onto my old notebooks won’t bring Mahlon back. He will always be with me. I believe the best way to honor his memory is by engaging in work I love, exploring nature, and spending time with my loved ones.