In Grief, There Will Not Be Closure

In our society, for whatever reason — perhaps because of the manic need to be positive, because of a short attention span, because of ignorance of what grief entails — after four to six months, most people seem to lose patience with outward shows of grief from the bereft. No wonder depression peaks six months after the death of a loved one — grievers are left alone to suffer in silence when they most need comfort.

I am still a long way from that six-month period, but already I sense impatience from others whenever my grief bleeds over into my real life, though my grief doesn’t often show. I can carry on a conversation, smile and laugh at appropriate times, concede that yes, I am finding closure.

I don’t know who wrote this, but it reinforces what we grievers have come to understand:

At some point we begin to find the road to life again and begin to retain a productive life. This is not closure. Closure is a term that was invented to make other people feel better. We will not experience closure and shouldn’t. We will miss our loved one and will never forget. As time goes by it gets easier and we learn to cope with the necessary changes, but there will not be closure.

Sometimes there is closure, especially if the deceased did not play a major role in our lives, but after any significant loss, we muddle along as best as we can with a big hole in our heart. It might scab over. We might learn to love again. But there will not be closure.

Very few people manage to live their entire life without a major loss, but still grief makes people uncomfortable. Almost no one knows what to say to the bereft, which adds an interesting bit of irony to grief. It is the bereft who must be sensitive to the needs of would-be comforters, to be understanding when confronted with insensitivity, to bring comfort to the uncomfortable. We’ve all encountered insensitive remarks (like “how could he have allowed himself to get cancer?”) yet we take the comments in the spirit we hope they were given.

Even though I have to let others feel better by thinking I’m finding closure, it’s nice to be able to tell the truth here in this blog: I am still grieving. And there will not be closure.

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