If you are coping with grief, I would like to set the record straight on closure.

I recently heard the representative from the family of Freddie Gray, who is the young man that died in Baltimore while in police custody, say the family was seeking “sacred closure” on the day of his funeral.

Unfortunately, the family’s grief will likely be “opening” and not “closing” after the wound of grief. This well-intentioned, but misinformed view of grief was likely heard by millions of people on the news.

This societal stance continues to perpetuate the myth of “closure” and deters the necessary support for grievers by encouraging the shortening of the mourning period. The bottom line is that you and any bereaved family can take all the time necessary to grieve. You are the best expert of your healing experience.


Healing Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint

Aren’t you back to normal yet? You may hear people ask, “Isn’t it time you let go?” or “Shouldn’t you be over it by now?”
These questions reflect the misconception that there is an acceptable amount of time to grieve. However, your sorrow is unique to you and your relationship with your loved one.
Those who have not lost a piece of their heart expect sudden loss survivors to be back to “normal” within a few weeks or months. Unfortunately, this is not how grief works. Please don’t fall victim to these false societal views.


Others Should Not Expect You To Be The Same

Life changes you, whatever the experience. For example, you are not the identical person after getting married, having a child, changing careers or getting divorced. Similarly, you are irrevocably changed and transformed by loss and will form a new understanding of life, love, meaning and purpose.
Most people expect grief to be over within a year, at the very most. Unfortunately, grief is a lifelong process. Instead, you will live beside it as you merge loss into your life.

Just as you will be influenced by the love
of your beloved person throughout your life,
you will be impacted by the loss.


Closure Is A Myth In The Heart Of A Griever

It may be healthier to think about integrating loss into your life. Although your loved one died, your relationship lives on, and you will learn how to cope in a new world.
Gradually, you will adjust and function again. You will learn new ways to live with loss, communicate with the departed and share memories.

This doesn’t imply you’ll never be joyful again
and not able to step forward;
it simply means that your loved one will continue
to be important in a different way.


Love Is Immortal And Infinite

You will find new ways to move forward with life and still hold your loved one forever in your heart. You will not feel sorrow forever. In fact, there will be times when you will not be consciously sad. You will have been shaped by all of your relationships and experiences. You will have built a life on what came before.
If you ask a parent who has lost a child, he or she will tell you that closure does not exist. Love and memories remain.
As Author Helen Fitzgerald so eloquently said, “At some point your grief will end, but this doesn’t mean that there will ever be an end to the sense of loss.”

The reality is that you will grieve forever.
You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one;
you will learn to live with it.
You will heal, and you will rebuild yourself
around the loss you have suffered.
You will be whole again,
but you will never be the same.
Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.
~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

About the Author

Chelsea Hanson is an author, grief educator, and founder of www.WithSympathyGifts.com. Her published work, grief support programs and online gift store have been used by over 700 funeral homes across the country to provide comfort to those who have lost loved ones. She is the author of six gift books and the upcoming book, From Loss to Living Your Legacy: 7 Steps to Healing after Sudden Loss. Get Chelsea’s free guide, What to Say and Not Say at Time of Loss at www.withsympathygifts.com