Can you believe I used to feel bad that I felt bad about losing my daughter? How ridiculous is that? Recent reads (Tim Lawrence, Megan Devine and others) have taught me that my grief is perfectly acceptable.
“Sometimes grief sneaks up on you and whispers: I’m still here. Don’t shame me. I deserve acknowledgement. I am the pain of your love…” – Tim Lawrence
“To say that grieving is “negative” is preposterous because grief is an aching wail of love for what we’ve lost. To NOT grieve is negative”. – Tim Lawrence
The word “closure” has always irritated me, perhaps because it is so oft used to push grieving people into ‘moving on’ or even, sometimes, shaming them into hiding.
Let’s look at this word more closely. The word ‘closure’ originating in the 14th century means a “a barrier, a fence,” an “enclosure; something that walls off or creates a “barrier or division”. From late Latin, closure comes from clausura meaning to “to close” or “bringing to a close”.
Is it really wise to encourage mourners to ‘find closure’? And when we say that, what do we really mean? Do we want grievers to ‘enclose’ their grief? Do we want them to build barriers around their true feelings? Do we want them to bring their emotions to a close? And if we do, why? Because of our own discomfort? Because we need others to be productive, happy citizens?
There is a cost to pay ‘enclosing’ grief. There are significant consequences for what my friend, the great scholar and psychoanalyst, Dr. Robert Stolorow calls the “war on grief.” The cost is high: addiction, inauthentic emotions, disconnection from self, from others, from the earth and nature.
Closure is for doors and cupboards and windows, not for emotions, particularly grief. The concept of ‘closure’ does not apply to my grief.
When we are suffering, we don’t need more barriers from one heart to another. We need connection, affinity, and civic love. We need to feel upheld in our grief. We need others to accept our sadness and love us however we show up in the world.
So, instead of worrying about how to make grieving people find “closure,” let’s worry about helping those who aren’t grieving find compassion.
In that way, we aren’t closing our hearts – we are, rather, in a state of opening, unfolding, and becoming.
– Dr. Joanne Cacciatore
Beyond Closure TEDx Talk with Nancy Berns
Worth the 17 minute watch.