“I need to get closure.”

You’ve probably heard that phrase in a conversation or a movie or a song. And some instances, you’ve probably said those words yourself. But what exactly is closure?

BY Racheal Abiriba


The abrupt end of a significant piece of one’s life – a relationship, a job, a friendship – may be difficult to process and get over. We all deal with loss differently so when something that you once counted on as very important to – and maybe even infinite in – your life is over, you try to find ways to move on without it. Thinking of moving on is the easy part; the actual process of moving on is where the real work begins. So does the concept of ‘closure’ actually help? Can you really expect other people to give you closure?

Getting over an ending, a couple of years ago, was one of the most difficult things I have done. I lost every urge to get out of bed. Even on the days I managed to leave my bed, I put no effort into getting dressed. I was a mess, and I let it go on that way for too long until my mum noticed and talked to me about it.

It’s not easy to flip the page when a chapter in one’s life has just ended. When we seek closure, we are looking for answers as to the cause of a certain loss in order to try and resolve the painful feelings it has created. In doing this, we appear to form a mental puzzle of what’s happened – examining each piece and its relationship to the overall picture. Closure is believed to be achieved when we conclude that the puzzle has been assembled satisfactorily; that the answers have been drawn and it is therefore possible to move on.

When people most need closure it is usually because the thing they have lost so abruptly is significant to them; holding particular value and meaning. With a breakup, for example, you may find yourself questioning every single moment, every fight, everything you believe you could have done differently, in search of an answer. The concept of closure is such that you believe that answers to these and many other questions you might have, would somehow provide the full stop to the chapter and enable you to turn the page.

It is important to remember that you are in charge of obtaining “closure” – others can’t do it for you. Even if your ex-partner talks about what went wrong in the relationship, there’s no way of knowing that they are being honest or correct in their assessment, nor is there any guarantee that this will bring you the satisfaction you are seeking.

So what then is closure? And when did we conclude that it was the thing we needed in order to move on?

You have to accept that you may never have the perfect answer to the many questions you have. But you can nevertheless give yourself some time to feel your feelings, learn what needs to be learnt and decide, for yourself, to move on from it, to grow from it. Maybe that’s closure.

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