What about Closure?

It’s Friday.  How about we take a couple of minutes to think about how death, dying, grief, and funerals deal with what is always termed as “Closure”.  Are you aware of how often we use the term?  What does it mean?  Do our client families desire this?

I bring up the subject because this past Monday was November 1 — “All Saints’ Day.  In my Lutheran church we celebrate all who have died before us on the Sunday following All Saint’s Day —  that will be this coming Sunday.

For going on 40 years the highlight of my week has been my Wednesday morning Bible Study at 7 am with a group of about 20 other men from my church.  We meet with no clergy present and discuss a Bible topic for one hour and then go on our way.  I’ve been in attendance virtually every Wednesday morning for the past 40 years — it is truly a joy to discuss these topics with other men who help to keep me grounded in my faith.

On Wednesday our topic was the story of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead.  It was a great topic for All Saints’ Sunday and we battered around what, other than bringing a friend back to life, was Jesus trying to express with this moment in front of his followers.

Eventually, the subject got around to those of us sitting around the table and our experiences with our loved ones who have gone before us.  As a funeral director it was interesting for me to listen as some described today’s funerals and memorials as more celebratory in nature that those of years ago. . . . . and virtually everyone thought that was progress.

Tom Anderson
Funeral Director Daily

We talked about “Closure”.  And then one gentleman said, “I never want closure.  My parents have been gone for 40 years and I never want the influence of their lives to “close” on me.” . . . . . .Interesting.  I thought to myself that my father has been gone for 44 years and I don’t want his memory or influence to “close” on me either. . . . or my mother who has been gone 10 years, I don’t want her influence on me to “close” either.

The group eventually got to talking about Elisabeth Kubler Ross and her “Five Stages of Grief (or Loss)” .  If you remember they are Denial-Anger-Bargaining-Depression – and Acceptance.  We discussed when and where is “Acceptance”?  Does the continued “want” for the memories denote “Acceptance” or do we not have “Acceptance” if we still have these memory wants?

I would argue that there is no right or wrong answer to these questions but I also realized that maybe telling all people that they want “Closure” is not the right descriptive term either.  Maybe they want the memories and are willing to feel the sadness and pain of loss at the same time they are getting a happy memory of a story told of their loved one.

I think it all is up to the individual and one possible answer is to give them the room to grieve, or close, or remember as they see fit.  It is always good to remember that we live in a world of “varied wants”. . . . .there is no one size fits all, not only in grief, but in many aspects of life.  It’s good to be reminded of that.

Have a great weekend!!

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1 Comment

  1. Eric Butler on November 5, 2021 at 10:06 am

    Personally, I have never used the word ‘closure’ when talking about death. I prefer resolution. Closure, to me, sounds as if we are closing-off, which does not happen, and I bet most people would not want to have happen.

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