How Important Is It to Find Closure?

Couple Argue at a Kitchen Table

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Closure is something people seek at the finality of something. For example, people seek closure after a romantic relationship ends; however, this is not the only kind of closure that people desire. For instance, after a parent dies, their children might need some form of closure to deal with their grief. In other cases, you might need closure after ending a toxic relationship with a friend or family member.

When in search of closure, the main goal is to get answers to unresolved matters; but is it worth the hassle, or is it better to leave things as they are and move on?

This article aims to answer these questions and discuss why closure might keep you from healing, what happens when you seek closure, and how to get closure.

Closure Can Prevent Your Healing

ICF Certified Life & Relationship Coach Rachel Kuhlen of Realize You Coaching says that seeking closure from someone can be a trap for the following reasons:

  • Seeking closure can become a crutch that keeps you from doing the actual work of moving forward.
  • You are asking someone who was not forthright with you in the first place to tell you what happened (if they had been, you wouldn't need closure).
  • There are no guarantees the other person will be honest with you.
  • The amount of closure you receive might feel unsatisfying, so you might question whether you received enough.

This perspective questions the intention behind needing closure. After you've heard the other person's side, what happens afterward? If they don't say what you need to hear or you find it hard to accept, what's next? Searching for closure might be an excuse to hold on to something that no longer serves you.

When something is lost or taken away, healing should be your main priority. But, first, you have to accept what once was is no longer present and work through those emotions.

Closure Could Be a Trigger

In mental health terms, a trigger is some event, thought, or person that affects your emotional state, often significantly, by causing extreme distress.

According to Kuhlen, your attempt at getting closure may amplify already existing insecurities or create new insecurities.

For example, if your partner no longer wants to be in a relationship with you, you might be tempted to ask the other person why they no longer wish to continue the relationship. Doing this is an attempt at getting closure. While you might want to know why things are ending, finding out this information could be triggering.

In many instances, you will never be 100% certain if the other person is honest with you, and you might question what they've told you.

Below are some examples of what your former partner might say to you versus what you think they mean:

What They Say
  • I don't love you anymore.

  • I found someone else.

  • I need time/space.

  • I'm not ready.

  • You're too needy.

What You Think They Mean
  • I'm not worth loving.

  • I'm not enough.

  • I'm too needy.

  • I pushed too hard.

  • I expected too much.

It's easy to overthink when in search of things that have been left unsaid or unresolved. But sometimes, things are better off left unsaid—you might find that ignorance is bliss.

When You Can't Get Closure

In many instances, closure may not be an option. For example, if someone has passed away, you cannot receive closure. If a romantic relationship has ended, the other person may be unwilling or unable to give you the closure you need.

So, what happens when you don't receive it? Are you better off not knowing? Are you sparing yourself additional heartache and confusion?

According to Sara Makin, M.S.Ed.,NCC, LPC, the founder & CEO of Makin Wellness, people often feel rejected if they don't get closure. However, Makin also notes that people are typically still emotionally invested in the relationship and, because of this, seeking closure can interfere with healing.

Sometimes the other person may be against helping you obtain closure. If this is so, you'll have to take it upon yourself to find other means to get closure for your own mental health.

Ways to Get Closure

Not everyone receives closure. Fortunately, other options can help bring some relief and peace to you as you accept the ending of a relationship and begin to move forward in life. The end goal is peace, so finding closure on any level is a win.

Here are some ways to bring yourself some closure when you need it.

Write a Letter

It could be a 'goodbye' letter to that person, and you can say everything you weren't able to. The important thing here is that you get those emotions out.

It's entirely up to you whether you send the letter. But, by writing everything out, you are releasing any sad and negative energy. Doing so can facilitate your healing.

Embrace the Tears

Crying is one of the best ways to release difficult emotions. Crying isn't a bad thing because, once you're done, you are often more likely to feel better afterward.

It is hard to lose people in your life, and it's even harder to try to mask those feelings. Let it out and when you're done, let it go.

Enjoy Your Solitude

Doing things alone can be so empowering. Have you ever taken yourself out on a date? Try it once, and you might realize that you enjoy your own company.

You don't have to ask anyone what they have a taste for, share anything, wait to order out of consideration for your guest, or pay for anyone but yourself. Long gone are the days of silent shame when going out alone was seen as a bad thing. Table for one, please!

Find a New Hobby

Hobbies are enjoyable and stress-free. So, find something that brings you peace and happiness. So, whether you like to color, paint, get pedicures, or shop, find something that makes you happy and do that.

Hobbies are great distractions and great for your mental health. When you're doing something that makes you feel good, it's like giving yourself a gift every time you engage.

Accept Things as They Are

The reality is that, with or without closure, the relationship has ended for one reason or another. While this may be a hard pill to swallow, face it head-on. In time, with proper coping methods, you will recover. You will meet someone else, make a new friend, or get cultivate stronger bonds with others you already know.

That relationship didn't work out for a reason; You may not know that reason right now, but in time it will make sense.

Acceptance is the first step to healing, and once you heal, you can move forward.

Do You Really Need Closure?

You're the best gauge of what you need. No one else can determine whether or not you need closure or how much of it you need.

Keep in mind, though, that you may not get the kind of closure that you're looking for. Are you prepared to hear something you don't like? What about the emotions that follow the conversation? Though there is hope for closure, it is not something that is often given; and when it is, the outcome is not what most expect.

However, the most important thing is to take care of yourself no matter what happens because you should be your main priority.

The best closure is ridding yourself of whoever interferes with your happiness and focusing on the people and activities that bring happiness into your life. So, is closure important? Well, you have to decide that for yourself and on your own terms. Maybe letting go is all the closure you really need.

By Candis McDow
Candis has been a mental health advocate since 2014. She has written several articles about mental illness, and her memoir Half the Battle (available on Amazon and encompasses her journey of living with bipolar disorder.