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The Myth of “Closure”


I’ve sat with men and women, months after the death of a child, spouse or parent and have been asked “will I ever find closure?”

My honest answer is “probably not, and I’m not sure you truly want closure.”

Closure works well in some areas, like the closing of a real estate transaction. But the term closure does not apply well to the human heart. It might not be possible, or even desirable, to permanently close the heart on a deep relationship, ended by death.

Are you sure you really want closure?

I loved my mother deeply. When she died unexpectedly more than 15 years ago, I would not look at her in the casket. I wanted to remember her the way I’d last seen her, watering flowers at our cottage on a bright June morning. She was one of the great loves of my life!

Several family members said I was in denial. Perhaps I’d never get closure, they said. I didn’t want closure. I don’t want closure even now. Yes, of course I wanted the pain to lessen, and it did surprisingly quickly. But if ever I went a month without thinking of her, sometimes with sadness but mostly with joy and gratitude, to God, something good would be missing from my life. I don’t ever want closure until I meet her in heaven. Then ironically, there will never be closure!

“‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4

It’s not over In losing someone, it’s important to remember that the relationship is not over. Death can rob us from the companionship of a loved one, but not from the memories of their life and love. And why would we not want to remember that, even at the risk of some tears? Grieving too long On the other hand, as an elder, I’ve met numbers of believers who lost spouses years before, who were still grieving hard. They appeared to believe their life ended with the death of their spouse. That’s grieving gone too far. That kind of grieving needs some closure badly, if they want to live a joy-filled life again.

They needed to put away the photos, clean out the closets still full of their loved ones clothes and do something! Go out. Volunteer. Go on a short-term mission trip. Join a Bible study. Date. Enjoy life. Sackcloth and ashes are okay for a time, but not for people of God who believe their loved one is happier today, than their best day on earth ever was.

If you have a mother or father or friend who just can’t get past the death of a loved one, ask them out – get them out. Give them permission to laugh again. It’s no disrespect to the deceased. “He is not here, he is risen” applies as much to believers as it did to Jesus in the garden.

If they still will not be consoled, consider going with them to their pastor, or a gifted Christian counselor. Don’t let them just grieve endlessly.   Help them get significantly more closure, without guilt. Remind them, that their spouse or child would never want them that sad. In fact, they’d likely never want them to be sad again. This life is not all there is! Perhaps they need a fresh, eternal perspective.

Years ago when our daughter was having a hard time with the loss of something. I reminded her, “Compared to all eternity, this life is just a bad afternoon.”

When we’ve been there 10,000 years bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise than when we first begun. Amazing Grace.

How following Jesus works in real life.

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