So often, we hear people say, “I need closure.” Closure from a situation or a relationship, from an ending that we were not prepared to endure. Very often, for many, that means a need to understand why something is the way it is, what happened, why does that person feel differently today than they used to feel, why did that situation change. Very often, there is no closure, there is no explanation. Nobody helps anyone to understand why the relationship changed, why their feelings changed. Whether it is a friendship that seems to go awry for no apparent reason, or an intimate relationship that falls apart without you understanding why, closure seems to be the answer that many of us endlessly seek. Is there always an answer? Absolutely not.
Sometimes to gain closure we need space and time. We need to move away from the situation and allow ourselves to gain some clarity and heal. We may spend time pulling apart every conversation looking for clues. We may analyze every dynamic that was central, to see if we can create a deeper understanding and recognize why this is an ending. We may beat ourselves up and tell ourselves we are losers. We may beat the other person up, recognizing all their shortcomings. Of course then we beat ourselves up for ever trusting someone with those shortcomings to really look after our heart.
In reality, closure only happens when we are ready to let go of the situation. Let go of the feelings that have held us in limbo. Let go of the sadness. Let go of the anger. Purging a situation like this takes time and sometimes it takes rituals.
There are a few ways that a closure ritual could help. It can give you something physical to do so that you come out of your emotional mind and into your more logical mind. It could give you a way to say good-bye, which is what we really may not have had. It could give you a way to move from anger, fear and the like to love and compassion, to the other person and to ourselves. We have beaten ourselves up and need to love us again.
A ritual that has been helpful for me over the years is writing. Very often I will write a letter to the person letting them know how I feel. Letting them know, perhaps what I have learned about myself through this situation. Letting them know that I will move on, forgive and grow. The letter rarely is ever mailed, it is either saved or burned. Burning things is cathartic for me. It reminds me how fleeting things are and how easy it can be to truly let go.
A second ritual that has been helpful for me is to name what emotion I am feeling and understand why. Then I write down the emotion and that I want to let it go and then I release it, usually again through burning. This ritual focuses more on me and moving through the emotions than the other person or situation. It allows me to truly understand and forgive myself.
The last ritual I have used for closure is to let the other person know I am done, in some symbolic way. It may be a letter to them. It may mean mailing them back something that was important in our relationship. Not to hear from them, to let them know they no longer can reel me back into their life. It may be to remove them from all of my contact information and social media and move on (this one they may not know about).
Whatever way we need to gain closure we should try. But, in the end, the real closure comes when we understand the lesson we were to learn. Perhaps the ending of this situation has taught us something deep about ourselves, or helped us heal something deep within. Perhaps the ending pushed us to the brink so that we could heal other wounds that are deep inside and we had been ignoring.
Although we may never get the answers that we seek, the quest to closure can help us so much, help us get to deeper meanings of our wounds and lives.