They've had a rather stunning effect on me, those words I heard on the radio when Nancy Berns was discussing her book called, Closure: The Rush to End Grief and What it Costs Us.
The words bear repeating because I think they are incredibly wise. It's just taken slow me a long time to get it: You don't need closure to heal. You don't need closure to heal. You don't need closure to heal.
These words have given me an enormous sense of peace and permission to enjoy my life, feel happy and content, AND to hold on to the vast and unending sadness that is the loss of my husband Ken. Adults who have lost something really big and important in an untimely fashion, like a husband in mid-life, for example, become re-made; the structure of their life disintegrates, the expected shape rearranges, and slowly they rebuild. What comes gushing out of the pipes of security, safety, control, and certainty, trickles over time into a pool of perspective, peace, gratitude and acceptance. It sits there shimmering. You can soak in it. It can really be quite lovely. Until you start thinking about how you got there...how everything had to be destroyed before you finally let yourself swim.
But, it's OK. I lost my husband. I can't believe it happened to me, but it did. I can't believe I'm a single mother in a great big world doing all this on my own. It's simply horrible that he's not here, particularly for our children. I've grown so much. I've learned so much. The most important thing I've learned in the last few weeks: You don't need closure to heal.
It's like a mantra to me, and I wonder if it stirs others who struggle with the complex and contradictory feelings of hope, sadness, guilt and renewal that arise when one is ready to move on from active grieving. Here's how those words make me feel:
It's like after the structure of my life tumbled down and then amidst all that chaos the rebuilding had to begin immediately, if not slowly, and then finally, finally, that huge amount of dust that got stirred up and landed on every available surface, settled. Oh, once it settles, it's so much easier to breathe. There's more work, there's more clean-up, there always will be. Everything just looks better. Thanks Nancy.