Sometimes we lose people, places, and things. Sometimes, because life is like that, things end too soon or without us wanting it to come to an end. In these situations, we can be left behind with undone feelings and leftover psychological residual impact. In these situations, sometimes the person, place, or thing is already gone before we have had a chance to say goodbye or to agree to the absence. In these times, we have to understand that as humans, our brain and body needs an ending or what the world has called, “closure.”

I would just place a disclaimer out there, which I always share with my clients when we work on closure: sometimes no matter how much closure we work to create, the body and or brain misses the person, place, or thing forever. 

Closure is not synonymous with “getting over it”, “getting past it” or “moving on”.  Closure more means giving our brain and body what it needs to not be stuck or so overwhelmed by sadness that we can’t function. Closure is something we can do to deal with loss so that we can continue to live.

Closure sometimes needs to be applied when the loss is obvious, and sometimes needs to be worked through when the loss was not acute, specific, or obvious. The pandemic has left a lot of us feeling loss but for many of us, the loss has not been specific or clear. For many of us, we are not sure of what to let go, what to work on, where to begin, because everything has felt like a loss.  

tThe end of the year, 2021, might be a good opportunity for us to practice skills of closure as an experiment to  see if we can un-stick some of what has become stuck. To begin, we must identify something we would like to place some ending around. The best way to do this, is to scan ourselves for feelings and conjure up possible tender spots. Our brains and bodies will tell us when we have found a sore place and we will know there is work to do. 

This inventory is not easy or fun to do, so we want to do our scan for emotional work when we are feeling psychologically safe and in an area that is comfortable and calm. Think about the love you had for this person, place or thing and use those feelings of love to validate yourself. The reason you lost is because you loved.  Loss doesn’t occur unless you allowed yourself to feel connected and of course there is feelings of grief. Closure is about understanding why there is grief and acknowledging for ourselves our own humanity and vulnerability. This is hard and is also necessary.

Finding closure is not a finite, perfect, guaranteed resolution. It is a process and a step forward.  Sometimes we have to continue engaging in that process over and over again until the tiniest stickiness is replaced with the tiniest movement. This, the microscopic step forward, is also closure, just over a longer period of time. Have grace for yourself, this is hard and meaningful work you are doing for your own wellness and recovery.

  1. Set aside time to inventory your experience, looking for stuck feelings and thoughts. Do this only when you are able to take good care of yourself.
  2. When you find a loss that needs attention and closure, first stay present and there for a time to assess what hurts the most.
  3. Take breaks as needed to stay in the pocket and not go numb or get flooded. Re-visit as needed until you fully understand who, what, or where the loss is.
  4. Spend some time nurturing the feelings of loss. Validate your experience. Care for those tender spots.  Send love to the hurt parts of you.
  5. Set aside time to continue to re-visit the loss until you feel less stuck and there is more room to move forward and live in less pain.
  6. Understand that closure is not obvious, clear, linear or forever. We must return back to our losses to continue to validate them and care for them. A new loss can bring up an old loss that we thought we had closure on but is re-opened.  Have self-compassion for this complicated and mortal experience of being human. 

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