Last night, a grieving person shared that he’s being “pushed toward closure” by others. Another young man whose brother died more than two decades ago is forbidden from speaking of him.
What is this obsession we have in our culture about closure, and what precisely do people want grievers to do with this odd concept?
More importantly, why is closure so important to others?
I suspect this closure-peddling by others is about their own discomfort with our grief. I suspect some have bought into the myth that there is an end-point for grief. They believe in a grief fairy tale where a moment-in-time arrives and takes grief to the netherworld, catalyzed by reckless recovery-seeking for that which cannot be recovered.
Grief cannot be extinguished by forcing closure. There are no effective closure incantations, or closure dust, or closure pills when the person we love most in the world dies. Nor should there be.
I submit that to close ourselves to grief is to close ourselves to love; simply, to shut down our hearts. And it is not be sage to solicit closure to a broken heart, the underlying message being: Cut yourself off from the grief so you do not feel the pain of grief. To hasten grief when it is enormous is, rather, unwise and may well cut us off from love and connection.
I do not want this thing they are selling, this idea of ‘closure' on grief to make others comfortable. Nor will I accept others’ prodding toward it because it is not my truth. Closure is for old bank accounts, picnic baskets, toxic relationships, and peacoats.
I trusted that - over time - I would learn to live again in a different way. I trusted I would be able to feel joy again in a different way. I trusted that I would be able to feel content with the grief being an ever-present in my life. And I made a decision to keep my heart open to all the beauty and horror that is real and inherently part of this human experience.
Closure is not for the human heart that loves and grieves.