Closure! Isn't that what we all want when we've been disappointed by our life circumstances or experienced the loss of a loved one? We are in a hurry to close the door on the old and move on to the new. Unfortunately, it isn't quite that easy and true closure is a pretty elusive state of being.
In actuality, closure, which is defined by Webster as a sense of psychological certainty or completeness, is not even a desirable goal after a loss. Instead, it is healthier to learn to live with your loss and integrate it into your life by learning from the lessons with which you have been presented.
There are only a lucky few who can move through life without experiencing some sort of loss. The rest of us need to learn how to triumph over losses that can range from the benign, such as a minor disappointment, to the monumental, such as the death of a loved one. Accordingly, coping methods vary and the necessary steps for the move towards personal renewal range from small to large.
You may be aware of grief literature that contends there are five stages of mourning one must move through in order to reach that elusive closure. These stages or steps were first introduced in 1969 by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in her book, On Death and Dying, and they include: denial and isolation; anger; bargaining; depression; and acceptance.
I believe these “stages” merely provide a framework of expectation, which allows one to see the universality of the grieving process. Moreover, these five stages are not necessarily experienced by all or in the aforementioned order nor is there any specified time range or length for each to last.
When your life as you knew it has been stripped away, the only thing left is YOU. Mourning presents you with the perfect opportunity to spend time in introspective thought to learn about who you are at your essence. There is no place to hide, only time to think and grieve for once was and is now gone. In your bare-bones life, it is easier to reach clarity because there are no distractions. This is the place where you can learn to accept and love yourself unconditionally. This is how “closure” can be attained: you leave behind the old you and welcome and embrace the new you.
Ellen Gerst is a grief and relationship coach and workshop leader. She is the author of several books on both topics, including: Suddenly Single: How To Move From Loss To Renewal; Understanding Grief From A to Z; 101 Tips and Thoughts on Coping With Grief; Love After Loss: Writing The Rest of Your Story and Understanding Dating and Relationships From A to Z. For a full roster of her books, visit her website bookstore or Amazon. Connect with Ellen on Facebook to receive tips on how to find love after loss.