I only half paid attention to the news the other day but one word I heard caught my attention: Closure. It was made in reference to the killing of the terrorists who were responsible for the embassy slaughter in Benghazi. Now the family members of the victims could have a sense of closure, the report stated.
I bristled at the suggestion. Closure? When you’ve lost a loved one?
What exactly does closure mean? The dictionary defines it as a sense of resolution or conclusion. The term was brought into popular use in the 1990’s when the “Need for Closure Scale” was adopted by behavioral scientists. It was developed for individuals with a high need for order and predictability in their lives.
What a fallacy. Our lives can never be predictable. Anyone who has lived even a few short years understands the unexpected can happen. Trains are delayed. Flights cancelled. Car accidents take lives. Cancer is discovered. Our lives could be described as an “adventure” perhaps—but predictable?
After writing the memoir of my daughter, Bethany, who died of a brain tumor, I was asked if writing the book somehow gave me a sense of closure.
I told this person that I find closure an interesting word. It seems to imply that one can get over the death of a child or other loved one who is torn from our lives here on earth. In some ways, I think it helps onlookers be more comfortable. They don’t have to act like the grieving person still suffers.
In fact there is a part of those who are left behind that will always suffer.
If you lose a limb, you learn to adjust to its loss. You make accommodations for its absence. Yet the nerve cells in your brain are still connected to that limb. Often, amputees talk about “phantom pain” that makes them feel the actual presence of that missing body part. And yet, the limb is gone. Never forgotten. Always missed.
The fallacy of closure is that one never resolves the heartache. It becomes accepted as a part of your new life. But the pain never closes.