For almost 3 years, I have been writing each week. I missed a few here and there but that’s life. Year 1 was a fog. Year 2 was sharp realizations. Year 3, I finally accepted that Clayton was not coming back and it was time to focus less on losing him and more on keeping me.
Everyone’s journey is different but in many ways grief and stages are very similar. I keep hearing “me too” when I share and I’m starting to see that I’ve been walking on a more worn and kept path than I realized. It’s there in those shared moments that I find small bits of healing. Many ask “have you moved on” or they make a statement like “it’ll be better when the grief is gone”. These are meant to be supportive but I’ll always keep missing Clayton. I’ll always keep wishing things were different. I’ll always keep his memory alive. I’ll always keep sharing where I am along this path.
This year has taught me so many different things about me. I have made a conscious decision to be my first priority and advocate for myself verses allowing the grief to be my guide. When I shifted my perspective on the grief managing me to me managing my grief, the path widened. The road started to be less of tough terrain to travel. Being honest with myself about where I was at and really diving in to think about why I was walking through my days the way I was gave me the insight. I have been letting my grief lead me but was that the way life would now forever be? It’d didn’t fit right or sit well.
A big part of my grief has been keeping so busy that I don’t have time to think. Another big issue that weighed heavy was I kept feeling guilty I’m here and Clayton is not. Those are normal things that many of us do but at some point we either keep them or let them go. So at the start of this year I had a deep conversation with my grief. Grief was always going to be here so we had to work on our relationship. I get that the things he kept me doing were to help protect me but he wasn’t letting me breathe and grow. So he couldn’t keep me overworked. He couldn’t keep me scared. He couldn’t keep making me feel guilty. He couldn’t keep making me emotionally eat. He just couldn’t keep me.
So I’ll still have days where all I want is for Clayton to come back. I’ll still honor every feeling and memory that comes to me. Maybe this is all part of the process and it’s a natural 3 year milestone but the grief no longer runs my days. Now I am the grief keeper…