In the years I’ve been working with clients, I have been privileged to be able to help many of them navigate through the rough patches of life. As time goes on, I find am being asked more and more about the issue of ‘closure’. Sometimes I will be working with a client who is trying to heal from the break-up of a relationship and they will ask, “I really need closure. Why can’t I seem to get it from my former partner?” The blunt reality is that people rarely receive the closure they deserve from others who have hurt them. This is why as individuals we must take responsibility for achieving this closure for ourselves. This may be challenging, but it CAN be done! And when it is, it is immensely empowering.
Before we can begin the real work towards closure, we must first accept that we cannot control the actions or decisions of others. It is human nature to want to avoid unpleasant confrontations about emotions. This is why it can be very difficult to get a person who has hurt you to engage in a dialogue about what happened. Quite frequently an individual who has initiated a breakup will often refuse to sit down and rehash it. (In fact, they can tend to shut down communication altogether.) There is anger, guilt, shame, and sometimes selfishness all tied up in those decisions. So this leaves the person on the receiving end at loose ends– asking “why?”– and ultimately without the elusive closure.
Because of these things, is important to NOT get stuck on the notion that achieving closure is dependent on another person. This is a trap you must avoid. If you buy into the idea that closure for you is dependent on someone else, the more sad and powerless you will feel over a longer period of time. Meanwhile, that other person is out there, moving forward with life as usual (or so it seems). The best thing you can do for yourself is to work on your own closure, on your own terms.
The most important first step towards achieving closure is to allow yourself enough time to heal. It is perfectly okay to cry and to feel angry and frustrated. It is good to get all of those feelings out of your system – and it may take time, so give yourself that time. It is important to purge these emotions and to begin to move away from those past things that are so painful. It is also valuable to work through those feelings because you do not want them to come up again later, when you have moved on to a different (and hopefully better) relationship with someone new.
Another step towards healing and closure is to examine the positives in the situation. (Believe it or not, there are always some you can find!) Perception is everything and time can greatly change how we view ourselves and the choices of others. It is really beneficial to try to look at these past experiences through an alternate lens. Maybe your partner had quirks, habits or other things about their personality that were annoying at times? You can focus on how relieved you are not to have to deal with those things any longer. (You may even find humor in these thoughts.) The old adage that “time heals all wounds” is so very, very true.
It is also very worthwhile to get back in touch with your core values and beliefs and to focus on how important those things are to you during the healing process. Reconnecting with friends and family, and also with the hobbies and interests that you love can be a great thing, since they can tend to take a back seat when we are focused on relationships. As human beings, we can experience an incredible amount of personal growth from loss. It is very important not to give other people the power to determine how we process and get closure on that experience