“Closure or need for closure are psychological terms that describe the desire or need individuals have for information that will allow them to conclude an issue that had previously been clouded in ambiguity and uncertainty. Upon reaching this conclusion, they are now able to attain a state of closure.” (Wikipedia)
There have been two times in my life I held on to a relationship longer than I should, because I could not obtain the closure I needed.
The first relationship was mom after she died suddenly, in her sleep. We didn’t have the mother-daughter relationship I would have liked and her death left many unanswered questions.
The second was the heartbreaking way my second marriage ended, the lack of answers to a dozen questions and no sincere and authentic apology.
I gained closure with my mother several years ago. After dad died I wrote her a letter. I had let my mother rest in peace for many years but the death of dad brought her to the forefront. The letter was a ritual I performed. My dad’s death was the end of an era for me. The letter to mom and the death of dad allowed me to gain full closure.
I gained closure with the end of my marriage…well that happened when I took off to Colorado for seven months and left all that behind. I no longer need or want answers regarding my second marriage.
At the time I had no plan to gain closure, but looking back there were steps I inadvertently took.
First of all I had to take responsibility for my actions.
Questions I began to ask myself:
- Why am I hanging on?
- Am I just avoiding the pain I know will come with total and complete “letting go” of the person or situation?
- Am I just angry and demanding more than I know I can have?
- Have I decided to use this lack of closure as justification for my anger and pain?
And one more very important question:
- Where does staying in the past lead me?
There are painful events in your life you may never “get over.” However, there are steps you can take to overcome your pain and settle into a state of closure.
- Grieve the loss – take some time and just let the grief come over you. It’s painful and it’s heartbreaking. This part of the process is very important. Ignoring your pain or incorporating harmful ways of dealing with it will only compound the problem. You may need to talk to a professional, a clergy or close friend. There is no pre-determined amount of time to grieve. This was a step I did not take. But looking back I wish I had.
- Perform a ritual – I wrote my deceased mother a letter after my dad died. I burned my 2011 journal on New Year’s Eve. While on the surface these acts may seem trivial, but they really did help me let go of some of the pain I had carried.
- Make plans for your future – I began to look at what I needed to change in my life to move forward. I had a job, friends and habits which were not conducive to gaining closure so I had to end those relationships.
Deciding to provide yourself with your own closure, opens the door to so many wonderful opportunities. Just remember it takes time. There is no quick or easy solution. So, be kind to yourself, love yourself and provide your mind, body and soul with healthy ways to move forward.
Shelly is a personal development strategist and founder of The Rescue Yourself Project helping women over 40 step into their unique selves so they can create a life they love! A few years ago, she found herself living a life that wasn’t of her making. Deciding that wasn’t what she wanted she ran away from home and spent eight months “re-branding” herself. Today Shelly helps women find their unique selves by becoming experts about their values, strengths, passions, goals and purpose so they can design a life they love.