‘Closure’ can be a highly controversial subject as it has different meanings, or applications, for different people. The term is frequently used in reference to the disappearance of a person. The family feels a need to locate the missing loved one so they can have ‘closure’. I am not sure what the family is looking for. The word generally means ‘the end’, ‘finished’ and is likened to closing a door. If I were to seek closure in that sense I can’t help but think I am trying to forget someone. Perhaps it only means the end of a search and the family has finished trying to locate the missing person because his/her condition– dead or alive – is finally known.
After my brother died I tried to locate his two boys. Their mother died years before and now they were without a parent. The boys seemingly left Planet Earth. I heard a few stories but was not able to corroborate them. One boy had joined a state police force, but contact with that ‘lead’ provided no answer. I could only presume the boys had no desire to contact any family member, for whatever reason. I should not, and did not, lose any sleep over the matter but I continue to think of them with love and pray they are well, healthy and happy. I call that ‘closure’ for me. I have not shut a door on their existence, only finished or ended a non-productive search. Perhaps, someday one or both of the boys will make an appearance and we will have a lot of ‘catching up’ to do.
My interpretation of closure involves many different areas of my life. The first I can recall was when I was eight- years old, and I had to give up several of my cherished toys. My family moved from one state to another and there was no room on the moving van for them. So I was told. My older sister kept her things ‘because they were in good condition’ and I do not recall anything being said about my younger brother and his playthings. I was more fortunate than I realized because I learned a valuable lesson about attachment to material possessions. When I realized what a blessing that lesson was – at a young age – I gave thanks. To me that was closure.
The most difficult closure for me was the loss of my family. The disruption of our family was my choice. I wanted a husband and children to love, honor and respect. When I could no longer honor or respect an abusive husband I did what I could to protect and care for my children. Today the children are all greatly respected by many, loved by many, and hold positions of honor. We are a close-knit family though lacking the one member I had chosen to be an integral part of the group. I could not be prouder of all four of my children, or love them more for whom, and what they are. Is that not an aspect of closure?
Personally I have been challenged to experience other types of closure that are both physical and mental in nature. I learned back in 1947 not to take the word of others as the ‘truth’ for me. Supervisors were said to be ‘tough’, critical, faultfinding, etc., but I had no difficulties. I’m not supposed to be alive, an edict given by doctors twice in my life, but here I am! Physical losses, which I experienced more than three years ago, are slowly, but surely, coming back to me so there still is no need for closure. The same can be said for some mental changes. Of the things I’ve forgotten many are from my childhood and I ask myself, “Is it really necessary to remember them?” I think I can recall enough. Names of some people and places have slipped into a ‘dead’ file. If I really must recall them, and can’t seem to, I’ll either ask someone else or do what I can to ‘resurrect the dead’. File, that is!
A few family members have made their transition and are no longer visible or a part of my life. Closure, for me, simply means I accept the fact that they are still following their paths and will go wherever they must go to learn their lessons and have their experiences. I often think of them with love and appreciation for the time we had together.
While finishing this article I received word of the ‘passing’ of a dear friend in another country who, for many years, has been like a member of my family. I have not seen her for more than five years. She neither spoke nor understood English, nor did she have a computer to receive emails. All my messages to her went through other people and I had no way of knowing if the messages were received. Is this what is meant by not having closure? I don’t feel that way even though she has passed to another dimension with which I am not yet familiar. Perhaps my thoughts and prayers will be strong enough to reach her. A short email from one of her grandchildren informed me that she remembered me and thought of me with love.
‘Closure’? If the interpretation means ‘the end’ and there is nothing more, I don’t agree. As long as the memory of any loved one remains in my thoughts, there is no ‘end’ or ‘finish’, and the door will never close.
Rowena Nichols, Columnist ‘Row’
Rowena Nichols, RN, Dr. MMT, PTA. Registered Nurse with BS in Nursing, Dr. of Medical Massage Therapy, and Physical Therapy Assistant(Certification). Beyond the use of her mass credentials, she has had a “full and rewarding life,” including living and teaching in Chile and returning to nursing at age 80. Currently, she is writing articles for several Newsletters and magazines, including problem solving for tutors of English at a Literacy organization in New Mexico.