What is a Closure anyway?

In my last post, we discussed the difference between right and wrong focusing on whether there is a right or wrong after all. I talked about certain subjective situations in which it is difficult to understand the difference between right and wrong and how that then makes it all the more difficult to actually come to an understanding on who to blame. A lot of you spoke to me about ‘closure’ and some of you even went ahead commenting on how closure was a natural occurrence in such situations. But is it natural? What is closure anyway?

The dictionary definition of closure states, ‘an act or process of closing something, especially an institution, thoroughfare, or frontier, or of being closed’. Amongst its synonyms include terms like shutting down, closing down or winding up. So, if we had to go by the dictionary definition, we must shut close that chapter in our lives and move on, isn’t it? But do we get any of that in real life?

Think about the lost friendships, the broken relationships, the distance that somehow crept up in between two siblings and ask yourself whether even today, sometimes, you think about how things were and wondered what could have been changed to bring things back to the way they were. I am not talking about acting on those instincts but just acknowledging their presence. Even to this day, I wonder what I could have done differently to still be friends with that guy, to still be able to talk to him as openly as I used to. But can we change anything that already happened? What if, instead of calling it closure, we told ourselves, ‘coming to terms with the reality’ or ‘accepting things for the way they are’ instead of simply ‘closing a chapter and moving on’?

‘Coming to terms with the reality’ and ‘accepting things for the way they are’ is much different from getting a closure. We barely ever get closure in life. We always have the memories in the form of feelings or thoughts echoeing in our heads reminding us of the lessons we have learnt from them all. All our experiences teach us something and if we started to get closures, our learnings would be lost behind those closed doors. Let us look at it in another way; you might not remember the first time you burnt yourself but you do remember the sensation and how it felt otherwise you wouldn’t have been so careful around hot stuff. If you got closure and moved on in life, in a way that you stopped thinking about it altogether, would you remember anything about the instant when you burnt yourself and be careful later on? Wouldn’t you be burning your finger each time as if its a new experience? So, that would mean, shutting the door to that memory of your life in such a way that you never really remember it happened and end up making those mistakes over and over?

But maybe if you accepted things for the way they are, allowing yourself to learn from the experience and move past the pain, you would be more mature and empathetic towards others and your own life situations. It would help you grow in life and do things differently each time and learning from those events. Let us understand here that there is no right or wrong here but we could always strive to do things better. If you feel that getting closure is the best way forward, so be it. I do hope you find the beauty and the openness to consider the act of ‘accepting things for the way they are’ and seeing whether that works for you in your life.

PS: I would love to hear what you have to say about this one! Comment on the post to let me know your thoughts!

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6 thoughts on “What is a Closure anyway?

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  1. Hi, this is the first of your posts I have ever read. It has some good points, and some others. But first I have to ask if you looked up the right dictionary definition of closure, considering you are talking about life situations. The definitions I read were more to bo with non-personal events, but personal events appear to be the closures you seem to be discussing. Therefore, please allow me to offer you a more life central definition: closure is finding that fact or piece of evidence that allows you to move on from an event, usually a sad or tragic one. Most closures are connected to loss, particularly death. The reason people, particularly humans, seek closure is to allow them to accept things as they are, and move on to a life that overcomes a loss or death. To be even more particular, the loss is usually an unexpected one, such as losing a long-term relationship with someone you care or cared for deeply. Another such type of loss is the unexpected death of a loved one through accident or foul play.
    To show a difference, the expected death of a loved one may be hard, but a person has had time to process that coming death, or the expected loss of a relationship. Even if you broke off the relationship, there is an adjustment period needed to get used to not having that person in your life. The same with an expected death. You know the person is leaving you, and you have wondered many times what life will be like without him or her, yet when the death finally happens it is still a surprise to your system. Again a period of adjustment is needed. If you feel you in anyway contributed to the death or relationship loss, you might event feel survivor’s guilt for awhile, why him/her, why not me? But closure has been taking place for awhile, so it is not alwsys even noticeable.
    But! When the loss or death is sudden and unexpected, there can be a need for closure. What happened? Was it something I said or did, or did not say or do? He left the house angry, and now I will never know why? I never got a chance to tell her how much I really love her! All kinds of crazy thoughts can enter the mind, for all kinds of crazy reasons. Why did she die? Who shot her? Why was she shot? Did he deserve what happened? All these things can go unknown for long periods of time, with someone always asking if anything more has been found out yet. If a missing body has been found? Did they just run away?
    Suddenly you are not just dealing with your own thoughts, but those of others who may mean well, but just keep your wounds open far past the time they should have been closed. Closure, as I understand it, is a recent phenomenen, as a child no one ever spoke of closure. A person was expected to deal with it on their own. That was not the best way to treat the survivor, obviously, but neither is talking about closure all the time. People today have been trained to want closure, and this haunts them worse than losing someone they loved ever could. And it is society that keeps wounds open, much moreso than the person themselves ever could. ychologist or social wotrker has interfered in the grieving process, and has thus affected its outcome.
    But enough of that.
    You ask about closure shutting you off from things you have learned, such as burning your finger on a hot stove. Why would you think you would unlearn a lesson so easily just by closing an event out of your memory. It is not your memory that learned that lesson, it was your body, your brain that learned that lesson, and it remembers for you. So let us look at something the mind learns, and not the brain. Let us posit that you are in a long-term monogamous relationship, but one day after a drink or two too many you see this too-sexual person and you suddenly want to bed that person, even though you have a perfectly good sex partner available any time you want. But because of the influence of the alcohol you approach that person, and rather than turn you down like you had hoped, they pick up on your offer and off you go. When you sober up, you realize what you did, and go grovelling back to your partner looking for their forgiveness. You learned your lesson. You’re partner forgave you. And you got closure. Did that end this event for you. Despite yourself, your mind keeps going back to the sexual episode. It was one of the most satisfying events of your life. Do you go back to the same bar occasionally? Or do you never go there again?
    The answer will not be the same for everyone. But none of them matter. Just you matter. What do you do?

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    1. @rawgod I understand and agree to the points you have made and I also believe that this is how we must look at closure and address it. The intention behind me writing about closure, of all the events that happen in our life is because I have watched this in movies and personally have encountered a few people around me trying to find closure in certain situations in life. One of the things that they mentioned and the way they were trying to attain closure caught my attention. It felt somewhat flawed and I decided to address the flaw.
      People have begun to misunderstand how closure really works. Their idea of a closure is to somehow forget the event and move on or perhaps even worse, pretend like it never happened in the first place. Through my writing, I only wanted to show how flawed the argument sounds as it is impossible to undo something you have been through. The actual way to get closure and as you pointed out is to make peace with the situation and let the acceptance of the event sink in.
      It is to remind my friends and my readers that they have to find a way to get closure but that way must involve accepting that the event occurred and then finding a way to make peace with it.
      I hope this helps you understand my perspective better. And I also agree that it is a personal choice and hence my blogs are always open ended. They are not the only solutions existing in the society and they sure as hell aren’t the right ones either. But they definitely are one way of approaching the situation.

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      1. Ah, I did not understand your motivation, so please forgive me.
        In my area of the world closure is looked at somewhat differently than in yours. No one here wants to foget, but rather to celebrate the thing that was lost. Unfortunately that is not always as easy as it sounds. For instance, our Highway of Tears, where hundreds of young women, mostly aboriginal, have disappeared over the last 40 or so years. Some bodies have been found, most have not. It is a horrible situation, one that the police think cannot be put down to one deranged person, or even one team of people. They think there are many people involved, carrying on the beastly work of the original perpetrator. Many parents have gone to their graves without closure, but they tried to remember the good times, rather than the lonely times…
        Life is not always easy…

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      2. That is a really crazy thing going on there! I pray for the wellbeing of all the families that have been affected. I am glad that we got our ideas cleared there though. I believe that our thoughts are shaped by our experiences and exposures. I am glad we discussed this because now, I have a different perspective added to my already existing one!

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  2. Peace.
    Craziness is not just the Highway of Tears. It can be found anywhere in the world that humans exist, although I have never yet heard such things happening in the Far Arctic, where it seems everyone knows the value of a life, and living it as best one can. Population centres, especially those based on Classic Greece (meaning European cultures, Middle Eastern cultures) seem to have the worst record of giving value to life. They also happen to be the cultures most attached to Abraham religions. It makes one wonder…

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    1. I beg to differ on that matter. The issues in the middle East and a certain part of Europe is partly the fault of certain developed nations trying to bring order into the society on the pretext of terrorist groups residing there. Unfortunately, the existence of such terrorist groups is because of the actions and positions taken by such developed nations. Let us not forget here that it is a two way street. You won’t receive unless you give. Hatred, especially comes only if you have personally been tortured or hurt. The whole human race is turning into its own worst nightmare.

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