When faced with a loss such as the end of a relationship, the death of a loved one or even an unexpected setback, many often seek closure as part of their journey of grieving and healing. Unforeseen tragedies and sudden losses can trigger our innate need to understand why something happened the way it did. There may be so many questions left unanswered and so much uncertainty regarding the turn of events that it may seem inconceivable to move forward without an explanation for the hurt and pain that was left in its wake. It is natural to want a final conversation or confrontation to mark the end of something that was so meaningful in our lives.
This notion, that finding closure is the key to attaining a level of peace and acceptance that will allow you to move forward, can sometimes be problematic. It may not be realistic or even possible to expect closure in some situations. There is no way to reach out to a loved one who has passed away for one last conversation or a final goodbye. Similarly, the person who broke off a romantic relationship may not have the capacity to validate your grief or even provide clarity about the reasons for the breakup. Seeking closure, in such situations can prolong heartache and confusion, and actually hold you back from moving on with life.
People often inadvertently hold on to their grief out of a sense of familiarity or even as a way to preserve their memories of happier times in the past. Over time, the pursuit of closure can become a distraction from facing the hard work and uncertainty of the future. Instead of seeking closure as a milestone of sorts that signals the end of the grieving period, the goal should be to attain a level of peace with your situation and come to accept that there may never be a satisfactory explanation for your heartache. It is possible for pain and joy to coexist within the full spectrum of life and accepting that may be the key to healing from your experience.
It is key to understand that grieving is not a linear process. Grief ebbs and flows with time and runs its own course. Allow yourself the time and space to process your emotions and come to terms with your loss. Journaling may be a way to help cope with difficult emotions, reflect on your thoughts, and gain a different perspective. So is talking to someone you feel comfortable with, be it a close friend, family member or even a licensed therapist. Often, addressing a letter to the person you lost detailing the things you wished you could say to them if they were still here may provide a welcome release for the sadness, anger, or frustration that you had been holding on to. Try to infuse some positivity in your life, little by little – this could be through engaging in activities that brought you joy in the past or trying new experiences.
There will be days when you may not feel up for it but gently remind yourself that taking care of your physical, mental, and emotional health, is crucial in your journey of healing and recovery. You may find that intentionally choosing to prioritize your wellbeing and making room for positivity instead of holding out for closure, which may or may not be within reach, may actually be the key to moving on with your life with purpose and optimism.