The Myth of Closure

By Kay Gardiner
December 22, 2018

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  • Thank you for sharing this.

  • xo

  • I don’t usually comment but in this case I have to.This a wonderful piece of work, especially that a person can feel joy and sadness at the same time.

  • I appreciate your newsletters so much!

    • I look forward to these daily too ❤️

  • Thank you so much for sharing this. I’m short tempered, stressed, and emotional. I really just want my mom.

    • My mom’s been gone a while. And she definitely could drive me crazy at the holidays. But boy, what I wouldn’t give to share our standard holiday dishes and open up that pack of Jockey underwear that was always under the tree for me. Hang in there, Maria.

  • LOVE this! Could not agree more. Thank you for posting <3

  • Perfect timing. Thank you Kay.

  • Loss is static, & permanent. Grief is more malleable, expressing itself in different ways over time. This holiday season I will remember 3 women – a mother-in-law, gone now 30 years; a mother, passed 17 years ago; & a younger sister, only 10 months departed. And I will grieve for each of them, but each in different ways.

  • Thanks for sharing this ❤️ I’m 65 and I have learned that loss becomes part of who you are and there is no getting over heartbreak. You put one food in front of the other and move forward. Others have commented on my resilience after experiencing devastating losses and pain but I still believe that every day is a gift. You truly understand and have a wonderful holiday

    • I’m there too. When my husband died, everyone thought I was made of steel. I took care of everything and everyone else without tears, just as I had during his sudden and stunning illness. But I couldn’t drink coffee for a year: it was how we began each day together—coffee and joy about another day to share. I have built a new life and rediscovered joy in the morning, but still there’s a hole where he once was and a place where I keep the love that kept us centered. And when those times come when grief and loss wash over me and try to take me to my knees, I remember….and go on.

  • And as you age the list grows – my parents, my sister, my grandparents, a cousin, in-laws….. But I really do feel like I carry them all with me, all the time, and in a comforting way rather than as an anchor of grief. Getting to that point does certainly did involve some tough moments though…

  • Thank you, Kay, for the wise words. The pressures of the holidays to be a perfect time don’t allow for real lives to experience them in enough of an individual way. After all, those tidings promised joy AND comfort.

  • Grieving can also apply to any loss, including pets. I Recently lost my beautiful cat Joie. I had her for almost 16 years, my constant companion. It’s a taboo subject to let your friends and family know how much you miss your lost pet, so it’s a pain that is almost always kept hidden. There are people out there believe me who would say “ it’s just a cat”.

    • Jean, I’m with you.

    • Oh, Jean, I’m so sorry for your loss. I still grieve for cats lost in the past, including for a beloved kitten who died at just eight months old, over three years ago. Friends find it a little hard to understand, but they try. Sending you peace and strength.

  • I agree with Jean. Ambiguous loss is a real thing, and so misunderstood. We’re not allowed to express grief over such things as the loss of a pet, miscarriage or infertility, the “loss” of a partner to dementia, or the death of a friend (not a family member). I have preached about this, much to the relief of my congregation, who of course have experienced all of these losses.

  • Your post today is very important. After my younger brother was killed several years ago I went through a very difficult time. I still have bouts of depression and sadness that come out of no where. One of the things that people tell you is that you will get over your grief. We don’t. It takes on different forms at different times but we never stop missing people who pass away and we always feel the sadness that is a part of loss. About a year ago, I came to realize that sadness and joy are not experienced separate from each other. This was a huge step in my grief process. Before this, it seems like the language around sadness and grief was that it was exclusive of feeling joy along side of it. During this time of year the holiday season can be both a very happy time and a time of sorrow for many people. Sometimes there is no joy and only sadness. It is difficult to share with others feelings of sadness. I keep it to myself most of the time. In my head I know that it is important to let others know my inner feelings. Joy is easy to share with others. Sadness is not. I hope with all my heart that those who feel sad can find people they trust and can talk too. I hope for all of us that when we feel joy we don’t need to push sadness away and when we feel sadness we will find love and joy.

  • Yes. And the dates not matter are often not the ones people assume. My heart goes out to you, Kay. Love, marilyn

  • Much appreciated words.

  • Thanks, Kay. I’ll give this one a listen, as the premise sounds interesting and helpful. I would also like to add the word “heal” to the pot of problematic words.

    Getting personal now… I was separated from my parents at the age of 7 and have had a distant relationship with them ever since. It was traumatic. In my adult life I experience occasional grief that stems from this separation. My living relationship with them is seriously strained. At the same time, there are times that my mother still manages to hold a place of love and comfort the way no other person can. This only exacerbates my yearning for specifically maternal comfort and love. To know what it’s like, but only in drips and drops can be really problematic, to say the least.

    There are times when I discuss these issues with people and they may say, “I hope some day you can heal”. This is a turn-off and to me, a waste of my time. You know, it’s not like they wish ill on me, but it is invalidating nonetheless. And I am stuck holding their ill-placed desire for my “healing”.

    There’s got to be a better way to help validate people in their grief without talking down to them, or projecting on to them that their experiences are either black or white, or just too hard to deal with.

    • This is a really important point. I think many of us equate grieving with recovery from an illness, where you eventually do heal and the illness becomes a memory, so much of our language of “comfort” focuses on that supposed path to recovery. But losing someone important in your life is like losing a limb— the loss will be with you for the rest of your life, long after the amputation has “healed.”

  • I heard that episode- it was really good and so true. Our pets, family, friends were and are part of our lives and we can’t close the door. Every day I think of questions I never asked my parents, I grieve the older brother I never knew before his mental illness took hold, I wonder how my niece would have turned out. I call the new cat by the old cat’s name sometimes. We can’t close the door on them. The nature and intensity of the loss and grief change over time. Remembering and holding on keeps them alive.

  • Thanks for this. I’ll be cuing it up when I get to the Y in about an hour. I’m still in that time when people expect me to be deep in grief. For a couple months after my husband’s death I felt like I was grieving wrong, that I wasn’t sad enough because he had been gradually failing for so long that I’d been grieving for about 5 years before his actual death. Those first months were such a relief that I wasn’t outwardly sad but last weekend when I sat looking at the sparkling tree and the other decorations it made me realize that he really wasn’t coming home for Christmas or ever again. My lovely family and knitting friends have got my next four days dated up, not completely, but enough so that I don’t feel such despair as I did.

    Kay, I’m with you, places are sometimes more problematic than dates and I expect I’ll always cry when I pick up a spatula as he’d given me one of them for every occasion, traditional or made up, for the last 25 years. I have so many spatulas in so many forms that I’ve taken bags of them to knitting night to share with friends. The thought makes me smile and cry at once. Pardon me while I find a tissue. Thanks again.

  • Thank you for this. Christmas should be a magical time for me because I have a three year old, but I still reel from the loss of my dad this time of year. He’s been gone 18 years but Christmas was his favorite holiday, and the loss still feels very real .

  • Thanks for this. My dad is terminally ill and the tide is beginning to go out fast for him. This podcast is very relevant for me now as I begin to contemplate a world without him in it.

  • Absolutely true

  • Yes. Just yes.
    All this psycho mumble speak makes me nuts at times. Closure indeed. The hardest thing is what you have to do … get out of bed, and put one foot in front of the other. Daily.

    My mother always felt that holidays were hard – though there was always family around, you remember those who are gone. She was the glue. Now that she is gone, I feel the same way.
    And yes, when I cleaned out the house and locked the door, I cried. People, places and things all bear weight to our lives.

  • Thank you for sharing this. I am going to have a listen.

  • Enjoyed reading about Krista; she’s literally our neighbor!