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Friday, July 11, 2014

Complicated Grief and the Myth of Closure

“Ambiguous loss is inherently a complicated loss. Through no fault of the individual, couple, or family, it leads to complicated grief. It is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation of loss.”
— Pauline Boss
Enquires into institutional sex abuse and the affect on children of generations previous, the sentencing of a murderer for their dastardly crimes, the loss of someone dear who is never to return; all these and more highlight the palpably intangible conundrum that ‘closure’ presents, if it even exists. The sex abuse inflicted is never vindicated, nor is justice served no matter how many years the murderer gets, nor is there ever a shortage of sorrow for the loved one we lost – if we focus on them.
Closure may be a fabrication for the imagination to hold onto. We say we need closure, and we do, but the trouble is that closure is more a myth than something attainable.
Some might say they’ve experienced closure. They may well have.
But it might be more productive and truer to say that peace and acceptance was the ultimate state of healing that was experienced. There may be more stock in simply externalising the grief and understanding that the losses experienced in life are a mirror image of love.
The more we love, the more we lose. And we can’t stand that! Life wouldn’t be worth living if not for love. We need to be loved, to love, to have hope.
Complicated losses, which have features of often being drawn out, will bring an irresolvable pain. The normal reaction to the abnormal situation of loss is not only to be expected, but closure is also thought to be desirable.
For many situations in life there is no answer, ever.
We do not lightly accept this truth. We rally and resist against it. We feel that a good God would have made it possible to be fully healed; and of a kind we can be – to a point. In some ways, that’s the importance of an eternal hope; that one day the senselessness of a situation may actually mean something. To that we cling, and it is palatable in our experience to take whatever acceptance we can achieve and hope for the final healing to occur when we leave this world.
The more we love, the more we ultimately lose. But we cannot stop loving. To experience a complicated grief and to expect closure may be a leap too far. But it is a worthy thought to simply work on accepting the untenable fact of loss. There is such a place of acceptance and peace from grief out of loss.
© 2014 S. J. Wickham.

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