About Me

My wonderful husband died when I was 44 years old. Being widowed this young happens to less than 3% of married people. Writing through this loss one word at time helps me understand what I've lost and helps me continue to grow. It is how I have gradually recovered from such a severe loss. Research shows that you can benefit from taking just 15 minutes a day to write out your deepest feelings as a way of healing. On the right side of this blog, you'll see a tag for Exercises to Try. If you need some help knowing how to use writing to help heal yourself, I suggest you start there.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

You Don't Need Closure to Heal

A widow friend of mine recently mentioned a new book about grief (which I haven't yet read) called Closure: The Rush to End Grief and What it Costs Us by Nancy Berns. The author was speaking on NPR recently and her final words were: You Don't Need Closure to Heal.

How I love these words!  You Don't Need Closure to Heal. These words explain so much to me. They explain why I sometimes doubt my contentment when I can still shake my head in disbelief that Ken actually died. They explain why I can still become sad in the fall, the time when Ken began his decline to death, when hope and dread and stress swirled around me and all of our family.

You Don't Need Closure to Heal. These words help free me from guilty feelings of leaving Ken behind to live my own time-limited life. They help me understand why today I am a stronger, better person with a surer sense of right living -- even though I owe so much to the man who isn't here to reap the benefits of my improved self.

These six words give me permission to feel happy, to grow, to enjoy life and to honor and respect what I've lost with a gentle bow of reverence.

And for all the people who I imagine might think: your husband died in 2006 so get over it -- now I have six words for you: You Don't Need Closure to Heal.

I hope the rest of the book matches the wisdom of those six words. To hear the author, Nancy Berns, a sociology professor at Drake University, talk about the concept of closure, copy and paste this link to your browser: http://whyy.org/cms/radiotimes/2011/10/17/closure-the-rush-to-end-grief-and-what-it-costs-us/

Take a few minutes to respond in writing to those six words: You Don't Need Closure To Heal. What do they mean to you, right now? And by the way, do you have a journal for writing down your thoughts about grief? If not, try it. It's just one tool for finding your way back to life.


Alicia said...

Ha! One of my favorite I-need-a-tshirt-with-this-on-it sayings is "Closure is for Windows, not for Widows."

This could explain why I've never been interested in grief books: They all point to "closure" in some form or another. Sorry, my friends: Grief is an open-ended journey, an open window, an open book. It doesn't cease to exist with "closure."

Jill Schacter said...

Alicia...Case closed!

Angela Wheelock said...

I'm not a widow, but I've lost many people and things in my life, including unborn children, control over my body, a lover who died suddenly in an accident, and more. I love those words "You Don't Need Closure to Heal." I agree with Alicia that they could become a new mantra. If I had a dollar for every time someone said, "aren't you over it yet" [take your pick of my various losses here] I'd be rich now.

Good luck on your healing path.

Jill Schacter said...

Thanks for writing Angela. They are powerful words and I'm glad to hear that they resonate with you too. I am reading Nancy Berns book now and hope to write more about what she's learned about the idea of "closure" and why it really doesn't work applied to grief.

Anonymous said...

I know someone who lost a child many years ago and still continues to seek closure that I believe will never come. She has exhausted herself emotionally endlessly in her seeking. This posting of words about not needing closure needs to be passed on, and I shall share it with her when we next cross paths. I myself am just "young" with grief with the loss of my husband (3 months) and can't grasp the idea that there will ever be closure with this, and, honestly, I don't want closure. (although a little healing would be nice!)
Your website has been helpful and thank you for your amazing ability to share.

Jill Schacter said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and I hope both you and your friend can benefit from what Nancy Berns is so wisely contributing to the field of grief. I am sorry for your very recent loss. I wish you healing and better days.

Finally, these simple words "you don't need closure to heal" help me understand how I can possibly feel happy and content again, even after such an enormous loss, and one that has forever changed and shaped me.

Anonymous said...

Who really has "closure" on enormous losses? Maybe those who didn't love so well. It doesn't take closure to heal. Amen to that! (Jan)

Jill Schacter said...

Thanks Jan for reading xo Thinking of you and your own path to recovery.

Anonymous said...

I have a male friend who lost his loving wife over 6yrs ago.hes not able to trust love and is afraid to move on for frear hell loose his next possible love.he has pics up of her and shes still on his answering machine..how can I help him?

Anonymous said...

Thank-you for the words. they are so true. I have never heard them before. I lost my husband 5 years ago and they say it all!!!

Oklahoma Lady said...

Its been my prayers to just return to a "normal life", the person I was before that happened. But it seems like going on without him would mean "permanent" closure, so I guess in a way, I keep some things open just to remember his little crooked smile, the feel of his hand when he wanted to hold mine, the hugs from behind when he KNEW he made me mad. Its like those itty bitty little thoughts is all I have left. One day I just want to smile and REALLY be happy in my heart. Will that day ever come? Closure to me would be welcome. There are days I say I knew where he is, he's not worrying, unhappy, sad, and maybe can't even remember us and that would give me a reason to go on but its still not enough.