Sometimes you never get closure.

There are some events where you just don’t get “closure.” I hear about “closure” a lot—and let me tell you, closure is overrated.

Closure—the idea that you can come to terms with something, be at peace with it for good—just doesn’t happen sometimes. Especially when the loss is so profound, so devastating, that it leaves you with a hole. A hole that you can’t fill by “wrapping things up.”

Forgiveness is different than closure. As Oprah said, forgiveness is giving up hope that the past could be any different. Closure is the psychological version of closing something, “moving on.” You can forgive but still not have closure.

Some things are not meant to “move on” from. Could lack of closure mean that you are depressed? Possibly. It could also mean that it’s going to take a long time, probably the rest of your life, to process your feelings of grief. And that is okay.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a pioneer in the study of grief and loss, said that you sometimes just don’t get to the grief stage of “acceptance.” To tell someone that he needs to get through the acceptance stage of grief can backfire, and can cause a person feelings of inadequacy and guilt. When loved ones, meaning well, tell my clients they really need to “get closure,” it causes a great deal of anxiety and shame. Why haven’t I gotten closure? Does this mean something is wrong with me? 

When speaking about her son Carter’s suicide, Gloria Vanderbilt said, “The most terrible word in the English language, ‘closure.'” Her son, Anderson Cooper, replied, “It doesn’t exist, there’s no such thing” (Heimbrod, 2017).

Over time, the pain of loss may subside somewhat, but it never fully goes away. We learn to live with non-closure, the wound that never truly heals.

There are waves of loss. Some days the grief hits you harder than others. You never really know when those big waves will hit—and they happen at the most inconvenient times. Grief doesn’t care about timing. It doesn’t care that you have to be at work in 15 minutes, or that you’re about to give a speech. It hits you—wham!—and leaves you breathless.

Is it “wrong” to not seek closure? To the contrary, seeking closure can actually make grief worse. Grief doesn’t mind its own business. It doesn’t care that you’re trying to resolve things. It will pop up its head and remind you it’s still there, no matter how hard you try to make it go away.

Let go of the idea of “getting closure.” There are some things that just don’t “close.” The more we accept that some things just don’t heal, the more we can be open to sharing our grief and loss with each other.

Copyright 2018 Sarkis Media


Originally posted at Psychology Today at: Closure Is Overrated