Closure is a Crock
We seek so often to have our endings neat and tied with a bow. Death that occurs in the first fifteen minutes of a TV show results in a funeral after the commercial break and the killer is caught by the end of the show. Problem solved, grief over, and on with life. What a crock.
To think that you could close your grief after losing a child you dreamt of, anticipated, then birthed, and raised for years is simply wrong. Anniversaries and holidays often accentuate the feelings of loss. During these times the only thing predictable is the worry that you may have this feeling for the rest of your life.
Despite categorizing complicated grief in the latest diagnostic statistical model, the guide book for therapists, grief is not a mental disorder. Grief is a human condition. I will stop grieving when my son stops being dead. But I will not stop living until I am dead. In other words the death your child or spouse or parent is not the end of your life.
It continues to hurt and at times it will hurt more. Grief cannot be divided into distinct categories that end in closure.
Resolution, on the other hand is reachable. I will never shut the door on my son’s life or death but I am resolving what it means to me daily. Resolution means coming to an understanding. On an emotional level, it means developing a certain peace in my life once thought unobtainable.
Meaning is the key. As you patiently, and I do mean patiently, strive for meaning, resolution will begin to happen. It’s a process that’s within your grasp. Victor Frankl who wrote Man’s Search for Meaning after enduring the horrors of a Nazi concentration camp, losing his life’s work and his wife, wrote that people can discover meaning in life depending upon the attitude they have towards suffering and which ultimately affects how they chose to respond to what life provides. It’s in the search for meaning that we find peace.
Death is a paradox. Explaining the absence of life is like trying to explain the absence of light. What was once here is gone but somehow seems more present than ever before. Memories are more vivid, moments are more meaningful, and our person seems more alive. They are both gone and here.
It is a paradox you feel married at the same time you are a widow; that you are a parent and you were a parent. Are you still a parent when you child is dead? The conflict is unsettling. Resolving the paradox is possible by coming to grips that you are both a widow and still married and coming to peace that you are still a parent no matter if your child is gone.
Losing someone is like an ugly amputation. Despite no longer having your leg, you still feel the “limb,” and you still feel the pain. You live with wondering how would you be if you still had your leg. After losing someone close we live wondering, “If they were alive what would they be doing now?
Christianity reminds us that life is suffering. Television prosperity evangelists lie to us. The cosmetic industry deceives us and the fitness craze confuses us. Suffering is a human condition and grief is an outpouring of that condition.
In some cultures, the body is to be buried before sundown but our grief lingers long after. How long no one knows. What is known however is reassuring:
While our grief persists, our depression, anger, and guilt do not. There may always be a hole in your heart left by the one no longer here but that doesn’t mean you will always be depressed. Sadness is not depression. It does not last. It will return but it does not have to persist.
Anger is a reaction to a threat. Death threatens life. It is the most basic of threats. As we experience new life, anger begins to decrease. You may be angry that they did not live a complete life, whatever that means, and that life is not fair. But that does not have to stop you in rejoicing the birth of a baby, the steps of a toddler, or the rites of passage of a teenager.
Coming to terms with the inappropriate guilt you have by recognizing it was not your will the person is dead nor was it God’s. Forgiving and asking for forgiveness is the only way to effectively deal with forgiveness.
While the intensity of our despair dissipates, the memory of that special person will not. Emotions and memory are closely tied together in our brain. However, our memory does not fade with our emotions. In fact, when stress is reduced, our emotions and memories become more clear. It is through repetition and reminders that memories remain intact. Because we have remembered that person’s touch, looks, even smell; we have remembered them in different ways, thus making a lasting memory. Long-term memory is based on meaning. If that person means something to you, you will not forget them.
Closure is a crock but resolution comes through relationship. Science, health-care, and religion all attempt to provide distinct answers to solve, cure, or save the human condition. The truth is science, health-care, and religion all come up short. Closure is a croc. Resolution, however is possible but only possibly through relationship. Relationship is where we find our meaning. Relationship with the one who has died, relationship with the ones who are alive, and a relationship with God. It is only when you have an ongoing relationship that meaning and ultimately resolution becomes possible.
If you are interested in how I began my journey toward resolution please read my story at: http://andrew-myatstory.pgtb.me/tbLm2F/mfqJM or visit me at andymdavidson.com. You can also follow me at facebook.com/throughlifeandloss.