If there were such a thing as word popularity in the conscious community, “closure” would rank up there right alongside “mindfulness.”
Closure is one of those words that gets tossed around a lot these days. A lot of people have written about it and how to achieve it. It’s a subject that I have written about more than once.
However, as someone who actually achieved it a few times, there is one part of the equation that I didn’t realize at the time: Closure isn’t the same as peace.
Without going into too many details, there was one particular occasion where an individual really, truly wronged me. It goes well beyond the stuff of discovering the love of my life was cheating on me or broke off an engagement—not that any of that stuff isn’t traumatic, but what happened to me could have been the stuff of a memoir or TV movie. Not only did I know that I had been wronged, but I even had the law on my side to confirm that I had been wronged.
While I did get to confront this person and tell them with a mediator present the ways in which I felt wronged, and while we did have an official ending of sorts, this closure didn’t bring the sort of relief that I expected.
To be perfectly frank, there were several weeks, if not months, where I actually felt worse.
While rationally I knew there was an overwhelming chance this person would never acknowledge or even care how much pain they put me and my family through, nothing could prepare me for the shock of actually experiencing it. And while I thought that this would force this person to acknowledge that this particular event had happened, the opposite occurred. Once, when I ran into them, they actually said something along the lines of, “Now that’s all over.”
If anything, it seemed that they got more closure than I did.
At that point, it truly seemed like a waste of time and energy.
It took me a while to realize a few truths: 1. Closure is more often than not an ongoing process, rather than one with a set date and time. 2. Closure can sometimes be overrated, and 3. Closure ultimately comes from within.
While one and three are self-explanatory, two requires some expansion. By overrated, I mean specifically the expectations we often attach to closure. Closure really doesn’t mean that all becomes well and all the pain, resentment and ill-feelings magically disappear; in fact, that rarely happens. Having a “final say” often isn’t final.
As someone who recently lost a father to cancer and never had that final say, I’ve often been asked if I regret it. Surprisingly, the answer is no.
Like many parent-child relationships (and relationships in general) where people request closure, it was complex. Our issues, grievances and regrets could not have been addressed in one or even 10 final meetings or talks. In fact, my father’s death has made it easier to come closer to what I wanted to achieve with closure.
My dad is dead. There is never going to be a letter, phone call or anything apologizing for his past mistakes or finally giving me that praise I sought from him all my life.
Likewise, I will never get the chance to tell him I am sorry for some of the things I said, and I can accept he did the best he could. In a nutshell, it is what it is. All I can do is try to apply those lessons from the past to my present and future relationships with my own kids.
It may not be closure, but it works.
Perhaps one day I will achieve the closure I seek, but even if I don’t, it’s enough—or at least it’s enough for me.
And that’s good enough.
Author: Kimberly Lo
Editor: Toby Israel